Chesapeake Dive Team makes a splash

First responders save lives anytime and anywhere, and being by the beach, this includes water rescues. Over the past 10 years, the Chesapeake Dive Team has been in and out of the Batten Pool at Virginia Wesleyan University. 

Firefighters and police officers from around the Mid-Atlantic have been freshening up their underwater rescue techniques to take back to their department dive teams. 

“It’s a train-the-trainer kind of course,” said Lieutenant W. Chadwick, a Chesapeake Police Dive Team instructor. The dive team trains year-round to be ready for any emergency. 

Additionally, they use the facility a few times a year, especially in cold winter months for annual skills recertifications when the local waterways are extremely cold.  

The team’s connection to VWU goes back several years. A former VWU Softball player, Heather Bishop, is a team sergeant, as well as one of our Professors of Social Work Dr. Benjamin Dobrin. 

Dobrin is a member of the Underwater Search and Recovery Team (USART). Before that, he was in dive school with the Virginia Beach EMS Marine Rescue Team and went through the Chesapeake Police Department dive school. 

Back in 2011, he was the dive training officer of Virginia Beach when one of their divers died during a training accident. He knew then that he needed more officers to have advanced underwater training.  

The teams do not only train, they get called to respond to maritime emergencies. According to Dobrin, just last week, they were called out to respond to an incident at the James River Bridge. 

They also perform rescues in high water and flooding or swift water in the case of hurricanes and tropical storms.

The team also does evidence recovery from crimes. This can include weapons and stolen items. 

Another part of what the team does is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to remove vehicles from local waters. “We are in one of the few states that have heavy lift capabilities, we have lifted a bus from 60ft depth,” Dobrin said.

Overall, “VWU is a wonderful community partner for local public safety teams,” Dobrin said.

By Ashleigh Lockard and Lauren Bible and