‘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

First council candidate is missing

RCMP asks that anyone with information contact them immediately

Junior A hockey coming to Sooke

Exhibition game helps the Rotary Club to help community youth

Life-Altering experience

Six weeks that served to change their view of the world

BC SPCA overwhelmed with cats, kittens needing homes

Large number of cruelty investigations, plus normal ‘kitten season’ to blame

Transit extends weekend night routes, ups service levels across Greater Victoria

Says bus lanes have helped improve BC Transit service frequencies

Ethnic media aim to help maintain boost in voting by new Canadians

Statistics Canada says new Canadians made up about one-fifth of the voting population in 2016

Sooke’s Old-Fashioned Country Picnic set for Saturday

The free event combines music, kids activities, food and fun

Wife charged in husband’s death in Sechelt

Karin Fischer has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of her husband, Max

B.C. Hydro applies for rare cut in electricity rates next year

Province wrote off $1.1 billion debt to help reverse rate increase

Retired Vancouver Island teacher ‘Set for Life’ after $675K lottery win

Patrick Shannon plans to buy new sails for his sailboat

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Man at centre of dropped HIV-disclosure case sues province and 10 cops

Brian Carlisle of Abbotsford says Mission RCMP defamed him and were ‘negligent’ in their investigation

Striking Western Forest Products workers could lose benefits in September

Union, forest company at odds over Vancouver Island benefit payments as strike enters third month

Most Read