The Evansville Fire Department Dive Team consists of 24 firefighters who are trained as Public Safety Divers and Dive Rescue Specialists. The divers respond from various fire stations, but the dive equipment is housed at Station #3. All firefighters from Station #3 support the team as divers, tenders, boat operators or assist with equipment maintenance. The dive team utilizes full face dive masks with underwater communications and Viking dry suits that enable divers to be protected from contaminated or cold water. When water rescue operations require boat operations, the Evansville Fire Department is fortunate to have a 22’ Scorpion aluminum hull jet-drive boat that is also capable of providing 2,500 gallons of water per minute for firefighting operations and a 13’ rubber hull Zodiac. The Zodiac allows firefighters the capability to hand carry this craft to lakes and navigate the shallow water of Pigeon Creek. In 2010, the department was able to purchase a Hummingbird side scan sonar. The side scan sonar provides team members the ability to scan the bottom of the Ohio River, locating submerged objects prior to divers entering the river. The department also purchased two (2) DUI dry suits. These new suits utilize the Zipseal neck system. This neck system allows our divers to obtain a better neck seal keeping the divers dry and keeping contaminates out of the diving suit.
In 2010, the department conducted a Public Safety Diver and Dive Rescue I Specialist class for seven firefighters. The 60 hours of intensive training included classroom work, pool dive skill sessions at Lloyd Pool, and culminated in open water dives at Pennyroyal Quarry in Hopkinsville, Kentucky.
In 2010, the Vanderburgh County/City of Evansville Central Dispatch reports indicated the Evansville Fire Department Water Rescue Team responded to 23 water emergencies. The International Association of Dive Rescue Specialist awarded our dive team the 2010 “Fabulous Fin Award” for Most Spectacular Water Rescue for one of these responses. On December 1, 2009, the EFD Dive Team successfully rescued and resuscitated a female who had driven her vehicle in the Ohio River and became trapped underwater. Dive Team members were able to affect the rescue of the lifeless female within 4 minutes of entering the zero visibility water. Without the coordinated teamwork and skilled training of these firefighters and divers, a tragic loss of life would have occurred.