With the unique geographic location and accessibility to multiple bodies of water, Montezuma County has needed an organized underwater search and recovery unit. The closest recovery team has been San Juan County, N.M., with a response time of two to three hours.
Lewis Arriola Fire Protection District recently filled that void with six of their volunteers. The team consists of emergency medical responders, firefighters and EMTs that hesitates to call themselves a “dive rescue” team. Dive rescue implies saving a victim and the crew does not want to give families false hope. If there is a need for a scuba-qualified team, on most incidents, it is for recovery and not rescue.
However, a team has been organized that will provide a rapid, professional, efficient and compassionate response, according to a news release from the Lewis Arriola Fire Protection District.
Dive recovery is not like recreational scuba diving. In this area the recovery team deals with cold water temperatures with poor to zero visibility. All members are required to hold a minimum of multiple qualifications in open water, advanced open water and dry suit certification, in addition to emergency response certifications.
The six-member team consists of Cody Hill, Shawn Peed, Levi Hill, David Robinson, Bobby Comisky and Damon Johnston. The team expressed thanks to the Lewis Arriola Chief and board of directors for supporting their efforts to become certified.