‘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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nakusp businesses struggle to stay afloat during COVID-19 crisis

One local business has reported a 90 per cent loss in sales over last month

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Nakusp store launches delivery service by donation for those in need during COVID-19 crisis

Hilltop Convenience Store has been getting up to three calls a day for the service

Castlegar hospice director says COVID-19 measures make serving the dying heartbreaking

Social distancing brings big challenges to offering support

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Most Read