ABERDEEN — Members of the Bingham and Power County Search and Rescue dive teams spent their Saturday morning diving below the ice in the freezing American Falls Reservoir.
The divers were completing their winter training, preparing for a scenario in which someone falls through the ice and into the water, potentially becoming trapped under the ice.
On Saturday, the ice in the Big Hole area of the American Falls Reservoir near Sportsmen's Park was nearly two feet thick. The water temperature was less than 30 degrees.
"They're training so in case we have a fisherman or a snowmachiner—whatever it might be—go down they're trained to be able to go down and find them," Bingham County Sheriff Dave Johnson said. "It's really important to do this training to prepare themselves for what may happen someday."
The divers arrived Saturday morning. One team cut the hole in the ice using chainsaws, another set up the safety ropes and the divers suit3e up to enter the icy water to recovery a dummy that was placed in the water several feet away.
Bingham County diver Casey Monson was among the first to dive Saturday and said the main difference between ice diving and free diving is that you are unable to surface.
"The only difference is you've got an overhead shelter," Monson said. "Free diving out in the open you can come up anywhere."
Bingham County Dive Team Leader Brennon Jones said the training is extremely important.
"Ice rescue diving is paramount because it's one time where you actually have an opportunity to save someone," Jones said. "There's documented cases of cold water immersion victims making a complete recovery in over an hour after they've been in the water. We're working on getting it down to where that's a possibility."
Johnson said the dive team is a group of dedicated individuals who volunteer their time and effort to ensure they are prepared in case someone needs rescued.
"All these divers out here today, except for two of them, are volunteers and they put this time in to come out on their days off from their normal job and do this training," Johnson said. "We couldn't do it without them."
A grant from the CHC Foundation was used to purchase much of the equipment used in the dive.