The Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department Rescue Dive Team will shortly celebrate its 40th birthday. The Dive Team has logged over 1000 recoveries including drowning victims, vehicles, stolen property, weapons, and miscellaneous items. In addition to the recoveries, the team has provided a valuable service to industries and water authorities by plugging leaks, closing valves, locating underwater drains, and performing various repair operations.
The Dive Team was given life by Chief Ed Hutchinson. Originally formed as a body recovery unit, the team's value in performing a myriad of underwater jobs became evident later on as the team grew and developed.
In order to find a replacement for "dragging," it was necessary to get firemen interested in "skin-diving." The team started with a core of 10 or 12 candidates who received the best training available at the time. The team tried to keep abreast of constantly changing equipment, developments, and technology. Older types of life vests were replaced by buoyancy compensatory which allow smooth underwater depth changes in addition to emergency ascent capabilities. Thanks to the Fire Department Board of Control, the Dive Team has always been able to purchase the safest and most updated equipment.
The team's equipment is carried in a special "Dive Truck." The truck carries tanks, underwater suits, an underwater communication system, lighting, ropes, and all necessary support gear. It also carries strobe lights, brush axes, a metal detector, Lowrance Sonar, and an underwater camera.
All of the divers have a nationally recognized certification being either NAUI or PADI. Training sessions are held at the YMCA pool, local ponds, and rivers for weekly drills. The ultimate objective of the team is to make a recovery quickly enough for resuscitation to be possible. Much of the success of any diving operation depends on the evaluation of the recovery site prior to the start of any operation. Eyewitness accounts are invaluable in sizing up any recovery operation. There is a certain amount of danger involved in diving operations, which is minimized by training, education, and experience. It takes about five years to develop a good diver.
Occasionally the Dive Team works as a valuable adjunct to one of the Fire Department's other operating units such as the Bloodhound Team. In some cases, the trail will lead to a body of water and the dogs will stop. It is then up to the divers to complete the search.
An important part of the dive operation is the support crew, which accompanies the team on calls. The crew is comprised of non-diving volunteer firemen with various expertise in fire service. Some are experienced in rope rescue, EMT or paramedics, river rescue, auto extraction rescue, and firefighters that specialize in scene management.
Even though the Dive Rescue Team has toughed out four decades underwater, they have gained valuable experience and have been constantly upgrading their equipment. The toughest challenge the team faces is finding motivated and enthusiastic volunteer firefighters to continue its service to the department and to the community in the years to come.
Captain - George McFarland
1st Lieutenant - Jimmy Rule
2nd Lieutenant - John Welsh
3rd Lieutenant - Mike Rosensteel
©2017 Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department