‘We’re not there looking for fish’: RCMP dive team practice on Vancouver Island

Divers from across B.C. are in the Comox Valley to practise swift water rescue

With a variety of facilities and terrain available, members the “E” Division (B.C.) RCMP Underwater Recovery Team are in the Comox Valley for week-long training and recertification.

Eleven divers and one instructor from across the province are in the area to practise swift water rescue and recovery techniques, explained Sgt. Steve Pebernat.

The divers are staying at HMCS Quadra while they train and he noted diving for the URT differs significantly from recreational diving.

“It’s task-oriented underwater – we’re not there looking for fish. We want them to be comfortable in an underwater environment and then be able to perform the tasks as well.”

Pebernat said in order to join the URT, a member has to be a part of the RCMP for about one year, have an interest in scuba diving and have 25 hours of bottom time (which they can accumulate while practicing).

Last year, the team had 95 calls for service for the entire province.

“We have over 20 active members on the dive team right now and those members can travel throughout the province,” he noted. RCMP members are part-time divers while maintaining full-time jobs such as general duty or traffic section within the RCMP.

When a dive call comes in, a page will be sent out to see who is available, and depending on the location, the organization will try and get divers from the closest geographical area to muster a team. The team consists of three to five divers, depending on the call.

“Most police offers want to serve the community, and divers want to be able to perform tasks to help the community to bring closure to a tragic circumstance. A lot of reasons divers are on the team is to provide that service. Some people coach hockey, some people do Girl Guides, we just chose to be on the dive team to provide that extra service to the community,” Pebernat explained.

Corp. Steve Wells with the National Underwater Recovery Centre in Nanaimo said the Puntledge River is an excellent practice area for swift water training.

“We are quite often called to rivers around the province of B.C. to conduct recovery operations, and to do swift water safety for other members who may be working in and around the water.”

While the opportunity to join the URT is done on a volunteer basis, Wells explained it provides members a good opportunity to challenge themselves and to perform a task and obtain training not many people get to do.

“You get to spend a day our here doing river skills, you get to do dives, open ocean off the police boat and the patrol boat. It’s a nice variety and it gives you a chance to get away from the office and do something different.”



erin.haluschak@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

“No excuse” for killing of two young grizzly cubs

Reader hopeful someone will come forward with information

UPDATE: U.S. firm fined $2.9M for fuel spill that soiled B.C. First Nation territory

The Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils in October 2016

No delivery services hard on local families

New parents Candace Knudsen and Bjorn Samuelsen spent five weeks away from home

UPDATED: Vehicle strike likely caused death of grizzly cubs

The cubs were discovered on June 30 on Thorsen Creek Road

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Most Read