OHP Dive Team Keeps Skills Sharp With Underwater Training

Tuesday, July 10th 2018, 6:01 pm
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol's search and recovery team practiced life-saving lessons Tuesday. OHP said it’s already had to recover at least nine people from the water this year.

The underwater search and recovery team spent Tuesday at Lake Tenkiller for monthly training. One thing they worked with was a sonar system that allows them to pinpoint underwater targets, especially when there is low visibility.

The summer months bring more people to the water, raising the chances the rescue team will be called into action.

“We try to come up with scenario-based training constantly. We try to train for missions that we might have in the real world - whether it's evidence searches, vehicle recoveries, vessel recoveries, drowning recoveries. We have a training dummy that we will sink in various locations,” said Dive Team Commander Lieutenant Jeff James.

Troopers come from across the state; each one has regular highway patrol duties but also responds to water emergencies

Tuesday mission was pinpointing a sunken boat.

"Our sonar sees for us whenever we can't see in water that is completely zero visibility, and we train with that," James said.

Once they find the target, the divers go down.

The divers and commander communicate by radio from the boat to deep below the surface.

After checking the boat for bodies, the divers made their way back to the surface, ready to start their next mission.

The training is fun but critical to keeping the divers' skills sharp.

James has a message for anyone out on the water, "Wear your life jackets. Wear your life jackets. Be smart. Even if you've swam your entire life, if you are out there on the water and you're boating or something like that, wear your life jackets."

The dynamic training allows the team to be fully prepared for any emergency on the water.