Local dive team preparing for when winter fun turns dangerous

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Eau Claire Fire and Rescue is getting out its scuba gear this week, training for if they have to go into the frigid waters to save someone.

The Dive Team is using the warm and safe confines of the Eau Claire YMCA pool for their practice.

“We do dive training four times a year. Today we're going to be working in the pool going over some basic orientation with the dive gear,” said Dive Team Supervisor David Whitehouse.

The dive team often has to battle poor visibility in local waters.

“So we're going to be practicing locating our gear when we can't see then we're also going to be practicing doing a search pattern to simulate finding a victim when we’re unable to see. So we're going to be blacking out our masks so it limits their vision,” Whitehouse said.

Because winter fun out on the ice can turn dangerous at a moment's notice, the divers are all ice certified.

“They have been trained in going under the ice and locating an item or a victim. Then we also have ice rescue training, which is more of a surface ice rescue that we will be able to get a victim off the ice,” Whitehouse said.

The training is a reminder to all that the river can be a menacing place.

“I would suggest people consider the ice to be unsafe at all times whenever there is moving water. There's never a time on our rivers where it's safe to be walking on the ice,” Whitehouse said.

There is also lots of teamwork with a rescue operation, with firefighters launching boats and using sonar equipment to help with the search.

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