October 18, 2005
They search for drowning victims and find criminal evidence at the bottom of lakes and rivers. And the future of their largest rescue boat they’ll use in the coming winter months depends on Tuesday night’s commission meeting. Insurance for the Columbia County Dive Team is up for renewal every October. News 12 is on your side with how your tax dollars are at work to keep you safe in the water.
Thirty men and women are on call, and they do it on their own time as volunteers. This past year, they responded to one drowning and recovered two pieces of evidence.
Rusty Welsh is one of those on call for emergencies and recreation events on Clarks Hill and the Savannah River.
“The training you get, the things we see, it’s different than an open water dive,” Welsh said.
But for Robert Gibbs, the range of 0-10 feet of visibility on a given day makes it hard to see at all.
“You don’t see, you feel,” Gibbs said.
They use this boat most often because of its size and fuel-efficiency. But they need a separate insurance policy for their larger pontoon boat used for long-term investigations and winter dives.
They come out to Clarks Hill, the Savannah River and other area ponds to do test dives about six times a year. That way, they’ll be ready to dive in if a real emergency happens.
The training keeps their response time down. They have about ten minutes to save a drowning victim. 9-1-1 contacts them directly.
“We get phone calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Every time we get a call, we respond,” Welsh said.
Round the clock, they put your safety first.
The pontoon boat insurance policy up for renewal Tuesday covers boat pollution and damage it may cause to others. The Risk Management Committee expects it to pass, but if not, long-term and winter investigations will come to a halt.