SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – The Sharp County Sheriff's Office created a dive team last year but has gone without some of the latest equipment, until now.
The sheriff's office recently secured a grant to outfit its dive team with a new rescue boat and more modern equipment.
Sharp County deputies say an average of two to three people drown each year in the Spring River, which snakes through the county. Det. Sgt. Ken Guidry says normally the county would depend upon other agencies to help out with any recovery or rescue missions.
"We depend a lot on other agencies – Hardy Fire Department, Cherokee Village Fire Department – who all have dive teams and boats," Guidry said. "However, they occasionally run short, and they need our assistance."
Now, he says the sheriff's office can step up more.
Guidry is one of two certified divers on this year-old dive team. The team previously used a small boat for rescues or recoveries until last month.
The office bought a new, 18-foot long rescue boat in September with a grant through the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.
"The previous one was a lot smaller and could only hold just a number of people in the boat," Guidry said. "This is a much larger boat and can hold all our equipment and more personnel."
The grant also afforded the dive team some more modern equipment, including new dive masks.
Not only do they have LED lights mounted in the mask, but they also have the capability to communicate above or under water.
"It's just an upgrade in services for the people of the county," he said. "As far as not having it and needing it, we hope we never have to use it, but if we do, we have the equipment."
The Sharp County Sheriff's Office is now trying to certify more deputies as divers so that they can rotate our more effectively in an emergency because diving missions are often tiring and last lengthy amounts of time.