Dive Rescue & Recovery Team
The GEMS Dive Rescue Team consists of 10-15 certified Public Safety Divers within the Department who have received specialized training and education in underwater search and recovery techniques. Many of the lakes and streams in Gaston County are considered hazardous, low visibility, and dives that require specialized techniques and procedures to safely conduct a search and recovery operation.
The GEMS Dive Rescue Team actively supports and assists the Gastonia City Police Underwater Recovery team through the provision of divers, surface support, medical support, and decontamination services. GEMS divers routinely assist the Gastonia City Police, and other local law enforcement agencies, with evidence search and recovery operations. The relationship between GEMS and Gastonia City Police has opened the door to specialized training in the future for GEMS Dive Rescue Team members in Underwater Crime Scene Investigations. Plans for participation are currently being considered.
The GEMS Dive Rescue Team has also worked closely with the Gaston County Police Marine Patrol Unit during the summer months. Dive Rescue Paramedics were assigned to ride with the Marine Patrol unit over the summer and during the holidays when boating and recreation on the rivers were at their peak. This "Public Safety" collaboration provided combined law enforcement and emergency medical services presence on local rivers. The Gaston County Police Marine Patrol Unit was able to respond to water-related emergencies that involved injuries and GEMS Paramedics provided the care, treatment, and in some cases, the transportation of the injured.
Preserve Life & Promote Safety
Protection of Life
The GEMS Dive Rescue Team responds to water emergencies that involve submersion with the intent to rescue and resuscitate the victims. Following the GEMS mission to "take the care to the patient", the team is equipped to provide resuscitation and medical care to any patient encountered and all team members are Paramedics.
When the unfortunate circumstances result in a recovery operation, the GEMS Dive Rescue Team efficiently conducts a water-based search for the victim. Working as a team with other public safety agencies (law enforcement, volunteer rescue squads, and fire departments), team members and responders work together to recover the victim.
Promotion of Safety
Prevention of accidents on the water is part of the team's proactive response to water-related emergencies. The GEMS Dive Rescue Team has submitted public service announcements and provided public education on how to stay safe around the lakes and streams. Prevention of water accidents is both easy and quick. Wear a life jacket while boating or at the water's edge is simple. The act of putting it on only takes seconds.
Equipment & Support
The GEMS Dive Rescue Team is integrated with and supported by the GEMS STAR Team Swiftwater Technicians. STAR Team members provide support to the team on the surface through the operation of the Water Rescue Unit. These specially designed trailer houses:
- A 17 foot Zumo boat
- 20 scuba tanks
- An underwater lift bag system
- Underwater search camera
- Surface support equipment.
Training occurs bi-monthly and may be combined with STAR team training. Training also occurs with the City of Gastonia Underwater Search and Recovery Team.
For more information on the GEMS Dive Rescue Team, please contact Jeff Hicks.