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Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Dive Team's new equipment

A member of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Underwater Search & Recovery Team puts on a new Kirby Morgan 97 helmet over a new dry suit during training on the safety equipment Wednesday at Santa Barbara City College.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Underwater Search & Recovery Team has acquired new safety equipment through a donation from a local philanthropic organization, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said.

The dive team trained with the new equipment Wednesday at Santa Barbara City College, spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse’s outreach efforts prompted the Raintree Foundation to award a $15,000 grant to the Sheriff’s Office to purchase a diving helmet and dive suits to protect deputies from hazardous materials encountered underwater.

Those materials can include decaying debris, pesticides and sewage capable of spreading disease and infections to those using recreational diving equipment, Hoover said.

“The sheriff’s dive team has to perform in some of the most adverse conditions a diver could encounter,” Sgt. Garrett TeSlaa said. “This is not the kind of diving you do on your vacation.

“We train and prepare for these events regularly, and this donation from the Raintree Foundation greatly expands our capabilities to quickly and safely recover victims or evidence,” he said.

The biggest purchase was a Kirby Morgan 97 helmet with an enclosed breathing apparatus and communication capabilities that, combined with new dry suits, eliminates many potential underwater hazards, TeSlaa said.

The Sheriff’s Benevolent Posse raises funds to fill the gap between the Sheriff’s Office’s needs and the county budget for equipment and training.

For more information, visit www.sbsheriffsposse.org.

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This report was compiled by Mike Hodgson, associate editor for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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