Pender EMS & Fire Dive Team was created by a core group of divers wanting to increase the safety and protection of our local community. The Dive Team fills a gap in rescue capabilities in an area with miles of water front. Our team is made up of twelve divers and a number of support personnel. We have both career fire and EMS personnel and members form our volunteer ranks.
The Dive Teams primary mission is the rescue and/or recovery of people and property involved in water related incidents. The team is trained to perform these tasks in a wide variety of water environments, from ponds and rivers to the intercostal water way and off shore. Our divers are also certified to preform operations at depths down to 120 feet.
Dive Team operations are not as personnel intense as some of the other special operations teams, but our team relies heavily on its equipment and individual training. Most basic dive operations can be performed with just four members, made up of a dive team leader, diver tender, back up diver and main diver. But every position requires a laundry list of equipment. When a diver enters the water they will have at least one hundred pounds of needed equipment strapped to them just to accomplish just the basic tasks. A lot of the added weight our divers carry is our redundant safety systems, all divers wear full face masks with integrated comms, weight belt, full buoyancy compensator with tank, level A hazmat dry suite and a backup breathing system. The dive Team also utilizes a 24 foot enclosed trailer capable of sustaining the team for extended incidents. The trailer carries all of the individual dive equipment as well support equipment such as portable lights, generators and a 50 gallon decontamination tank.
At the advanced levels our divers are certified we are capable of deep dives, diving on mixed gases and even skilled in the rescue of other divers in emergency situations. With 90% of our active divers being trained to an EMT-Basic or paramedic level we are able to continue care well after the dive operations has concluded.
With a safety being paramount to our team members we strive to comply with the following agencies and their guidelines as they pertain to public safety diving. NC Department of Labor, OSHA, National Association of Search and Rescue, NFPA.
With the relative youth of our team we recognize the importance of training, not only the addition of new skills but the honing of existing ones. Last year we were able to ensure that 100% of our active divers were certified in Open Water, Advanced Open Water, Nitrox, Rescue Dive and Advanced Rescue Diver. We also have members that are certified in Full Face, Dry Suite, Public Safety Diver and Submerged Vehicle Recovery. This year we look forward to expanding our skills with more scenario based training and even a full scale exercise involving a number of the other teams. We will also be working hard to streamline our operations from dispatch to demobilization.
Pender EMS & Fire Dive Team has made great strides in becoming the professional unit that is expected by the leadership of this agency and the community it protects.