RCMP divers converge on Comox Valley
RCMP divers practising rescue and recovery techniques in the in the Puntledge River on April 11, 2019. (CTV Vancouver Island)
Published Thursday, April 11, 2019 5:13PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 11, 2019 6:56PM PDT
RCMP divers from around the province are in the Comox Valley this week perfecting their skills both above the water and below.
Eleven members who are part of the E Division Underwater Recovery Team have been practising at HMCS Quadra and along local rivers testing techniques and equipment.
Cpl. Steve Wells is an instructor with the National Underwater Recovery Training Centre in Nanaimo. He says members are often called to rivers around the province "to conduct recovery operations and to do swiftwater safety for other members that many be working in and around the water."
The members who make up the dive team carry out their usual law enforcement duties but are then paged out as required to conduct underwater searches and, unfortunately, recover dead bodies.
"Most police officers want to serve the community and divers want to be able to perform tasks to help their community to bring closure to a tragic circumstance," said team member Sgt. Steve Pebernat.
"That's a lot of the reason divers are on the team, is to provide that service."
The team tries to maintain around 20 members with most staying for just under a decade. But Wells said that's sometimes difficult as officers progress in their careers.
"Members come in, they take the training and then as they move on in their careers they tend to be less releasable and have less availability to go on dive calls, particularly as members get promoted and at that point they tend to leave the team."
But he said the search is always on for new members.
"The B.C. team has made a concerted effort to really advertise amongst the detachments and say, 'Hey, if you want a challenge outside of the general day-to-day duties, this is a really good opportunity.'"