Columbia Basin Dive Rescue team seeks more members

By Tyler Richardson, Tri-City HeraldNovember 24, 2013 

The Columbia Basin Dive Rescue Team is looking to recruit more members.

The team, in existence for more than 30 years, handles everything from evidence recovery to pulling stray cars out of the water. They even saved a 300-pound llama that wandered into a Kennewick canal in 2012.

When a 13-year-old Pasco boy drowned in Casey Pond last year, the dive team returned the body to his family.

The team recently lost two members, and the number of volunteers willing to donate their time has shrunk through the years, said director Rusty Bell said.

"I don't think people know what we do or know we exist," Bell said. "It's a great community service, and you meet a lot of people."

The membership currently includes 12 volunteers, significantly down from years ago when they had as many as 30, Bell said. Officials hope to add as many people as possible.

The team partners with law enforcement agencies in six counties in Eastern Washington and Oregon, and provides education for schools, lifeguards, and events such as triathlons.

There are different roles on the team that don't require dive certification or getting on the water, Bell said. Volunteers are needed to man stations and repair equipment.

If people are interested in becoming divers, they must go through specialized training, Bell said. Five of the 12 current volunteers are divers.

More volunteers would allow Bell to coordinate separate teams to ensure people are always on the clock in case of an emergency, he said.

"That hardest thing to do is just show up and give your time," he said. "The more people the more resources we can draw from. We would like at least 25 people."

To learn more about the team and sign up to be a volunteer visit or contact Bell at 509-946-2237.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556;; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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