DPS Dive Team Trains With California Sheriff’s Office in Ice Diving
On Wednesday, February 20th, the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Dive Team hosted the Riverside County (CA) Sheriff’s Office for an extreme training in ice diving at Deer Creek Reservoir. Twenty members from Riverside County SO and DPS’ 10 man team practiced diving and became certified in the icy waters.
In the past, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office has done their ice diving training at June Lake, outside of Mammoth, California. However, recent mild winters have made the presence of ice on June Lake uncertain. So as they planned their ice training for 2019, they wanted to head somewhere that ice and colder winters was more of a certainty, so they reached out to the DPS Dive Team.
Captain Jeff Nigbur, the DPS Dive Team commander, helped coordinate the training with Riverside County SO. “A couple of months ago they contacted us and asked us if we wanted to join ice diving training, so here we are today doing a 2-3 day training, sharing ideas, working on ice diving and getting some of our divers certified on diving under the ice,” he said.
The DPS Dive Team conducts ice diving training once a year to get some experience under water in the extremely difficult conditions.
“It’s a very difficult environment to dive in…and it could easily kill you if you’re not careful.”Captain Nigbur
“It’s inhospitable environment,” said Captain Nigbur. “It’s extremely cold. Many things can go wrong underneath the ice. Your equipment can malfunction. You can have free flows, your equipment can freeze up. If you get under there, and you look up, you can’t tell where the hole is. That’s why we tether people under water, so they know exactly where to come out.”
The Dive Team would most likely use their ice diving skills and experience in a recovery situation if someone accidentally fell through the ice and was unable to escape.
“If you get under there, and you look up, you can’t tell where the hole is. That’s why we tether people under water, so they know exactly where to come out.”Captain Nigbur
Captain Nigbur noted that the DPS Dive Team is grateful for the opportunity to train with another agency. “Working with Riverside County Sheriff’s Office is just a great opportunity to exchange ideas, talk about equipment, talk about policies and procedures, and gives us a great opportunity to grow and learn from them.”
Captain Nigbur said that this helped provide invaluable training to the whole dive team, especially the three new members of the team. “It’s a very difficult environment to dive in,” he said. “There’s a lot you’ve got to worry about and it could easily kill you if you’re not careful. So we practice these techniques in ice diving.”
The DPS Dive Team is utilized by agencies across the State of Utah and neighboring states. Due to the equipment assets and the unique diver skill sets, the dive team is often called upon to provide assistance to aquatic homicide investigations and accidental drownings. The dive team performs these functions at no cost to county and municipal government in Utah. The DPS Dive Team is unique due to the fact that the Department has made it possible for sworn and non-sworn employees to be a member.
Watch a video from the ice diving training below.