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Archive for Friday, February 18, 2005

Rescue divers get chilly practice

February 18, 2005

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Members of the Douglas County Underwater Search and Recovery Unit were hoping for a layer of ice on Clinton Lake. The unit had hoped to practice winter search and recovery techniques Thursday.

Mother Nature had other plans.

"The Kansas weather just didn't help us out," said diver Earl Barnes, a firefighter and paramedic for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.

The water was a brisk 40 degrees. But not a bit of ice could be seen on a day when air temperatures were in the 50s.

Barnes said working with a frozen lake would have helped the practice drill. Ice dives require cutting into the ice. Special safety equipment must be used to assure team members remain safe if the ice breaks.

Still, the team likes to get out for practice at least once a month and Thursday's exercise was a chance to do that, Barnes said.

Divers put on suits, strapped on gear and headed into the water one at a time, linked to land with a rope and a radio communication headset.

Members of the Douglas County Underwater Search and Recovery Unit
practice recovery techniques Thursday at Clinton Lake, where the
water was about 40 degrees. Team members, from left, are Terry Haak
and Scott Chamberlain.

Members of the Douglas County Underwater Search and Recovery Unit practice recovery techniques Thursday at Clinton Lake, where the water was about 40 degrees. Team members, from left, are Terry Haak and Scott Chamberlain.

"We try to train for every mishap we can imagine in a controlled environment," said diver Terry Haak, an officer with the Lawrence Police Department.

The Douglas County Underwater Search and Recovery Unit comprises 10 members from the Lawrence Police Department, Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.



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