Area rescue dive team uses new underwater communication system

Kelly Hill, Dive Team Captain
Kelly Hill, Dive Team Captain

By Sarah Seeley

Clarendon, Texas - Keeping lake visitors safe this holiday weekend is the highest priority for area authorities.

Drowning deaths over the last couple years have prompted one area rescue team to step up its communication equipment.

This summer is the first test for the Clarendon Fire Rescue Dive Team.

"You ultimately hope you don't have to use any of this equipment, but if we do currently with the equipment we have now, we feel like we can do a better job of rescue and recovery," said Dive Team Captain Kelly Hill.

Dive team officials say since the lake opened in 1968, 22 people have drowned.

The volunteer rescue dive team hopes recovery and search and rescue attempts will be more successful by using the newest underwater communication devices.

They say Lake Greenbelt's visibility is the biggest problem they face when searching underwater.

"The communication system that we have will help tremendously with the [underwater] moss situation especially if we're working a drowning or something that's further off shore where we can't use ropes," said diver Blain Burton.

The communication system in the diver's masks will help them talk to each other and with a team above water.

"[It] will help tremendously just talking diver to diver just for the simple communication of if we need to go this way, [or if] we're getting off pattern here," said Burton.  "Having the surface communication, they can tell us, depending on the bubbles, which way we need to go if we've gone off pattern [or] if we've gone too far."

Officials say safe boating and swimming will help prevent accidental drownings.

They recommend also wearing a life jacket, and paying extra attention if children are around.

Area game wardens are increasing their water safety patrol this weekend, so remember it is illegal to drink and drive a boat.