High Point dive team always ready to respond to emergency rescues

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HIGH POINT, N.C. – A field trip at High Point City Lake turned into a rescue mission when a canoe carrying two students tipped over earlier this month.

“On that day it was cold and we are worried about hypothermia and them being in the water,” said Battalion Chief Marcus Powers, who was out there that day standing by with the city of High Point’s dive team.

“It ended well,” Powers said. “They made it to the shore and EMS took them in.”

He says it’s situations like this that prove how necessary having the team is just in case anything happens. Powers says the team answers 10 to 15 calls a year.

There are two fire stations in High Point that have dive team capabilities, both are located near the lakes.

Captain John Terry is a diver.

“A lot of it is done on feel or touch,” Captain Terry said. “It’s hard to see your hand in front of your face when you're down.”

Captain Terry says divers only have 20 to 25 minutes to search before they need to come back up.

For those few minutes, he says there is hours of training. Divers need to spend at least 100 hours learning before responding to a call. The team also practices monthly.

Getting out in the water not only takes time, but also costs a lot money. Captain Terry says one of the masks divers wear costs around $800.

“It’s not always a positive outcome but with this gear, it allows us to hopefully bring closure to families,” said Captain Terry.

He says there are usually between six to seven divers on duty at any given time. They even respond to calls in difficult conditions, like freezing temperatures and at night.