Lake County Looking To Revive Dive Team
The Lake County Commission narrowly passed a measure this week to bring back their dive team that the county disbanded just six months ago. Last fall, the commission said the team failed to comply with necessary paperwork regarding standard operating guidelines.
For 28 years, Lake County has had a volunteer Search and Rescue Team for land and water emergencies. But those operations came to a halt in 2016.
Lake County Emergency Manager Doug Huntrods said, “There was just some differences in expectations when it came to standards and documentation.”
While land rescues will still fall into the hands of the Wentworth Fire Department, Lake County is looking to restore its dive team. Huntrods says during a water emergency, they would typically have a minimum of three divers on hand. He says they are looking to add anywhere from six to nine divers to the team.
“Based on the response we get then we’ll know whether we have enough interest for people wanting to be public safety divers to move forward or not,” said Huntrods.
Huntrods says on average Lake County has one or two water emergencies a year. But with Lake Madison, Herman and Brandt growing in popularity, he expects that number to increase as well.
“Dive teams are not cheap, but they’re a capability that I would hate to see go away,” said Huntrods.
While some argue whether a local dive team is necessary, he says having one close may give a victim more of a fighting chance.
“When you have a drowning or a water accident, a lot of times it’s a recovery and we understand that, but if you have no capability then its almost always going to be a recovery,” Huntrods said.
Right now, those calls go to Minnehaha or Codington County with the closest team at least an hour away.
If there is enough interest, the county hopes to have a team possibly up and running in September. We did reach out to the two commissioners who voted against the reconstruction. One declined to talk about the team, the other didn’t get back to us.