NEWBERRY — The Newberry County Water Rescue and Dive Team put their rescue skills to the test as they performed an underwater body bagging rescue in one of the team’s regular training sessions at the YMCA.
The Dive Team responds to six to 12 dive-related calls during warm weather each year, they use the YMCA swimming pool to train and prepare for calls.
“Even if someone has ‘drowned’ we still want to treat the recovery with the same sense of preservation as evidence. Once the individual is found they are wrapped in a sheet to keep whatever is near them on them, they are bagged underwater in a mesh bagging system and are brought to the surface in a controlled manner,” said Captain Carl Moore.
He said this is done to prevent displaying the body immediately for the families on shore, and to bring up as much with the body as possible, despite being underwater.
In the past the team has used regular underwater bags, which would need the assistance of 12 people when retrieving the individual to the boat, due to the extra weight.
“With the mesh bagging, once you bring them up you’re not dragging an extra 50 pounds with it, but the system we use assists in actually getting them on shore and getting them on the boat,” Moore said.
After the individual has been retrieved, the dive team will usually turn the body over to the coroner for further investigation.
“The thing about it is if we’ve got something like that I own that body, I own that evidence until we get back to shore, we have full ownership until we get to shore,” Moore said. “We just try to preserve as much evidence, we try to keep a GPS on where we found it, and that may be a body, it could be a piece of evidence.”
He added that when responding to dive calls it’s all about what is called the “Golden Hour.”
“On days when it is cold and we’ve got a 10-year-old kid that falls off a dock, even if they have drowned we’ve got a good hour that we have a real chance of getting them back,” Moore said. “There’s also the ‘Platinum 10 minutes’ which if we’ve got something significant going on with an individual we can get to them and start working on them the first 10 minutes or so.”
If anyone would like to join the Dive Team, Moore said that they are in need of topside support.
“I don’t need divers so much as people to help topside. Right now, we’re topside poor. I could put divers in the water, but I really honestly need three people per diver so if we’ve got three divers sitting there, I need nine people standing around helping,” he said.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.