La Paz County Beefs Up SAR Dive Squad
By Ron Kilber
May 22, 2001
Lake Havasu, Arizona -- A multi-agency search-and-rescue (SAR) diver course is in progress on the lake above Parker Dam. Twenty-one students are enrolled in the class, which is being conducted by the La Paz County Sheriff's Office. Divers are members or employees of La Paz County Search and Rescue, Parker Fire Department, Buckskin Fire Department, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Lake Havasu City Parks and Recreation Department, Central Arizona Project and the La Paz County Sheriff's Office.
Captain Chris Chambers, Buckskin Fire Department, prepares to make a sixty-foot dive into 60-degree zero-visibility water near Parker Dam on Lake Havasu. (photo by Ron Kilber)
La Paz County Sheriff Hal Collett is the course instructor, assisted by Ken Tipton and divemasters Karl Hartmetz and Greg Bachmann. All are certified by the Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI).
The course is held on Tuesdays and runs six to eight sessions, which began on May 8. The SAR training simulates emergency situations occurring in the real water world: river, swift water, deep water, zero-visibility water, evidence recovery, surface water injury, canal and night rescue. Course graduates will become official PADI Certified Rescue Divers.
La Paz County Sheriff Hal Collett observes dive students taking turns entering a submerged house boat used for SAR training and located in an isolated cove. In the water (or under) are Swan Cooke, Vic Rees, Claudia Stewart, George Ellison, Dan Hiatt, Kyle Conley, John Newman, Jim Nafsey, James Nafsey, Bob Anderson, Brian Marble, Steven Sachak, Chris Chambers, Don Nims, Jerry Burns, Doug Esmay, Tom Fox, Scott Rothacher, Marco Adams, Ralph Beard and Rob Richardson. (photo by Ron Kilber)
According to Sheriff Collett, as safety education for the public increases, boating and water accidents decline. Last year, for example, there were only four water fatalities, while in past years the numbers have been as high as twelve.
The La Paz County Sheriff's SAR Division currently consists of seven units: Air, Mounted, Group Trackers, 4x4, Canine, Command Post and Dive. There are more than seventy-five volunteer members of the county SAR organization ready to find and save lives when needed. Volunteers consist of residents from Parker, Quartzsite, Bouse, Salome and rural areas.
The Sheriff's Department conducts SAR training periodically. Individuals interested in volunteering should contact Sheriff Hal Collett at 520-669-6141 (or 311 in the Salome area).
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Copyright (C) 2001 Ron Kilber All rights reserved.
Non-commercial reproduction permitted in its entirety with this copyright notice intact.