“You weigh use against need:” Wilton disbanded the Dive Rescue Team

WILTON – Citing very limited use, the city has decided to discontinue its emergency dive rescue team.

On Tuesday evening, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to disband its small group of underwater-trained personnel, which includes members of the city’s police and firefighters.

“This is something that we have been looking at for a few years now,” said Police Chief John Lynch, noting that other specialist teams were also under consideration. “The results tell us that for the amount of team usage, which is about twice in the past 10 years, it’s just not affordable or realistic to maintain. “


Lynch said the associated equipment costs will become a savings for the city, as well as the training of staff who devote two shifts each month to maintain their certifications and experience.

“So you weigh the use versus the need,” Lynch said. “We have contacted our neighbors (at) Norwalk and Westport, and they are more than willing to respond if we need a dive team.”

He explained that since the work of dive teams usually involves recovery efforts – either looking for evidence or looking for drowning victims – it is not necessary to have a team on hand in the area. immediate. However, in the event of a water-related emergency, neighboring towns will be notified at the time of the call and will respond immediately.

“There is no charge to ask if we ask them to come,” said Fire Chief Jim Blanchfield, noting that Wilton emergency personnel are also called to these municipalities at no cost.

Following a question whether these arrangements with other cities could potentially become one-sided and even incur additional costs, Selectman Ross Tartell pointed out that neighborhood responses end up balancing out.

“A few years ago we did an analysis (and) over time it fades away,” he said. “No one wins over someone else over time. It’s pretty even.

Instead of the decision to disband the dive team, Blanchfield said his staff were refocusing their attention on “getting back to the basics of rescue”. This includes emergency water training, surface rescue techniques, “quick catches” and “quick water training”.

“Wilton has water and we can make a difference, (so) that’s where we’re focusing (our efforts),” he added.

Selectwoman Deborah McFadden recalled that when she first joined the board, she expressed concern about the amount of dive team equipment belonging to the divers themselves and not to the city.

“I have always looked at the dive team with some concern because of this responsibility,” she said.

“It’s something we’re not going to have to worry about,” Blanchfield replied.

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