By Bruce Dammeier, Pierce County Executive.
Imagine yourself in a hostile “alien” environment, where gravity is different, and your survival depends on the limited air supply you carry on your back. Now, further imagine you can’t see anything and have to navigate through pipes filled with obstacles, that require you to remove your air supply, just to get through!
It sounds like a scene from a horror movie or the latest new video game, but it actually was part of the “confidence course” for our Pierce County Metro Dive Team. Dive team Commander Detective Brent Van Dyke explained that those are realistic situations his team may face in the Puget Sound, lakes and rivers of Pierce County. He wanted his divers to have experienced those challenges in training, so they are prepared for what they may face in a call out.
I am a certified Open Water diver who dives on an occasional basis – think Hawaii with a few dives in Puget Sound. So, when I spent Thursday afternoon with our dive team for their training at the Rogers Pool, I had some appreciation for some of their skills. However, they are routinely called out to dive in situations that I would never do. That is why their equipment and, more importantly, their training and teamwork are so critical to keeping them both effective and safe. They rescue people, recover drowning victims, and locate key evidence. I was astounded that they had recovered a pistol and seven .22 caliber bullets from the Puyallup River – yes, in a flowing river with near zero-visibility!
Our team’s expertise means they are regularly called to help others outside of Pierce County. Most recently they were up in Snohomish County helping search for a lost Tulalip Tribal Officer.
Like nearly all of us, technology is helping them do their jobs more effectively, and safer too. They have two sonars that they can deploy from boats to help search along the bottom. They also have an aging remote operated vehicle (ROV) which can go much deeper than they can safely dive. However, I have not seen this technology firsthand – yet.
As we were exiting the pool, the team got a call out to help rescue a potentially lost swimmer off Browns Point. As they responded to this call for help, I realized it would be fully dark by the time they arrived at the scene. I am very glad they are well-trained.
I had the chance to do another one of my favorite things this week – hosting a Town Hall with you! It was our third virtual Town Hall since March.
I appreciated hearing what’s on your mind and I was impressed by the questions you asked – you didn’t pull any punches. In addition to answering those questions, the hour-long Zoom meeting gave me a chance to provide an update on two important topics: the COVID recovery and the mid-biennium budget adjustment under consideration by the Council.
My thanks to the hundreds of you who spent your lunch hour with me. For those unable to attend, you can watch the replay here:
We will post the answers next week to the questions we weren’t able to get to.
Before I close, I want to congratulate Sheriff Ed Troyer on his recent election. I had the privilege of watching his swearing-in ceremony last week and I look forward to working with him as we remake our criminal justice system to ensure equity for all.
Thanks for reading,
First published on the Pierce County website.