Columbia Basin Dive Rescue searches for volunteers
KENNWICK, Wash. — A local rescue team is asking for your help Wednesday.
Our reporter Tori Cooper hitched a ride with the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue team to find out just what they do, how you can help, and get involved.
A practice rescue was in progress Tuesday and not a word was spoken.
“We have different tugs on the rope that tell the diver to go out, go in, or to surface,” Columbia Basin Rescue Diver and Public Information Officer, Scott Ruppelius said.
Ruppelius has been a part of the Columbia Basin Dive Rescue team for over 16 years and spends his time training people how to speak under water code.
“Give him one tug,” Ruppelius instructed from the boat.
Using only non-verbal communication Reppellius and his team help assist one another along each aqua quest.
“The tender directs the diver, the diver is just on the end of the rope doing what the tender tells them to do,” Ruppelius continued.
The team spends time training together and helps create more rescue service members on the river.
However, despite their efforts their team is still lacking the man power to patrol the Snake, Columbia, and Yakima rivers.
“Volunteerism in general is a difficult thing because people have their own lives they have busy jobs,” Ruppelius explained.
Struggling to get more helping hands on deck, Ruppelius, is on a mission to inform the community.
“People probably think it’s dealing with drowning and victims all the time,” Ruppelius added.
When in reality only 20% of the volunteer job requires actual diving.
“The rest is boat operations and shore based operations,” Ruppelius said.
Volunteers also assist law enforcement in investigations as well.
“We conduct evidence searches,” Ruppelius continued.
According to Ruppelius volunteers just need to have a willingness to participate and volunteer an average of eight to ten hours each month.
“We’ll completely train you and teach you how to do what you need to do safely on the water, in the boat and on the shore. The average person just needs to have a can do attitude,” Ruppelius said.
The job also requires no prior experience.
“Submit an application and have a good background check,” Ruppelius added.
Reppelius trains applicants for six to eight months in hopes of making the rivers a safer place for everyone.
“It’s just fulfilling to know your part of a public service, on a worthwhile team the public needs. It’s a sense of gratification that’s all,” Ruppelius concluded.