09/08/17 — Training for water rescue

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Training for water rescue

By Ethan Smith
Published in News on September 8, 2017 5:50 AM

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Billy Rivenbark, Daniel Truhan and several other members of the Wayne County Dive Team participate in defensive swimming exercises Thursday during a dive team practice at the Ferry Bridge Road boat ramp.

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James Cornell test out his new wetsuit and dive mask during a swift water rescue training with the Wayne County Dive Team Thursday at the Ferry Bridge Road boat ramp.

The Wayne County Sheriff's Office Dive Team got in some swift-water rescue training on the Neuse River Thursday ahead of Hurricane Irma's possible impact.

The massive storm is projected to bring significant rainfall locally and cause river flooding as inclement weather is expected to arrive in the area late Sunday night or Monday morning.

This already-scheduled training for the dive team allowed them to sharpen their skills while the path of Hurricane Irma remains uncertain.

Lt. Ian Barratt said the team was practicing defensive swimming and swift-water crossing techniques, which are used to rescue victims trapped by rushing water.

The team members practiced in groups, dressed in dry-suit gear designed to insulate their bodies from the water and any contaminants in it.

Barratt said the training is a "plug and play" method that allows all team members to get the same practice and work interchangeably in any event.

The Sheriff's Office Dive Team often works in conjunction with water rescue teams in the area, Barratt said, such as the Arr-Mac Water Response Team and, more recently, the Goldsboro Fire Department's water rescue team.

The Goldsboro water rescue team formed up after the wake of Hurricane Matthew in 2016 brought unprecedented flooding to the area.

Should Hurricane Irma bring the worst, Barratt said, the Sheriff's Office Dive Team will likely stay north of the river while Arr-Mac stays south of the river, splitting the workload.

Barratt said the members of the dive team carry their gear with them in their patrol cars at all times, enabling a virtual 24/7 response from the team.

In the run up to the potential flooding, Barratt said the dive team has been taking inventory of its gear and checking equipment.

Then, they will pack their gear and, if necessary, stage wherever they are needed, he said.

If the worst happens, Barratt said they will stage in a central area relative to where the Sheriff's Office Dive Team's presence is necessary.

Should their services be needed, Barratt said the Sheriff's Office Dive Team will split into two, four-man teams to be sent into the fray while a command and control team is also assembled.

The Sheriff's Office Dive Team has 13 members, eight of whom were at the training Thursday.

In addition to Barratt, Billy Rivenbark, Ken Barrett, W. James Cornell, Tyler Kelly, Wes Cannon, Daniel Truhan and Chuck Shaffer got some practice in at the training.

Albert Wood, Hope Shivar, Danny Edwards, Anthony Mullis and Josh Leggett are also on the Sheriff's Office Dive Team.