Columbia Basin Dive Rescue Team response to emergencies
KENNEWICK, Wash. - Recent search and rescue operations in the Yakima River have led to questions about the local dive rescue team.
The Columbia Dive Rescue Team is made up of 10 volunteers who are not paid. Dive Rescue Member Scott Pattison said, "There's no way they could have someone out there 24 hours, seven days a week. You are not going to find that at any agency. They call it quits at the end of the night unless there's a chance of really finding some alive."
Pattison said it is unsafe to search at night and that if a witness saw someone go under the water, after an hour and a half, it is considered a recovery search.
Pattison said that just because they are a volunteer agency does not mean they are not as capable or equipped as paid rescuers, "and in several cases we are better trained and equip than several of them with the gear and dedication that we have. We're one of the best in the country."
The grandfather of 19-year-old Justin Avery who died while searching for Gary Kirk praised the efforts of everyone who helped in the search for his grandson but says there's some changes that could be made to prevent another tragedy, "they need to have an organization of paid professionals for as big as the Tri-Cities is to be able to take care and safe guard the water ways."
Dive Rescue workers spent about 460 hours searching for the two missing men in the Yakima River.