A Dangerous Dive For Search And Recovery Crews - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

A Dangerous Dive For Search And Recovery Crews

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In the search for a car in the Mississippi River Monday morning, the Moline Fire Department was able to mark the area where the vehicle was submerged so search and recovery divers could locate it.

But diving in wintry weather conditions is extremely dangerous, even for a professional diver. And the water itself brings on an entirely new set of challenges.

"With less boat traffic we actually had four inches of visibility, four inches beyond my mask," said Big River Rescue and Recovery instructor, Mark Poulos. "Generally you can't see anything beyond your mask. It's all by feel." The dive team said underwater visibility is nearly non-existent.

Then there's the temperature.

Divers said it was less than 40 degrees in the water Monday morning. Which means that they have to rotate divers often so everyone has a chance to warm up.

They also have to worry about the current. Divers wear harnesses and ropes so they can't be pulled away.

But they've also learned to use the current as a search tool.

"We actually use the current to our benefit," Poulos said."We use the current as a directional tool ... We can picture in our mind where that vehicle is or where that object is that we're looking for."

He said the higher the river level, the stronger the current. Right now, the river level is abnormally low at 4.5 ft.

The big river dive team is made up of trained volunteers from throughout the community, many of them have a background in law enforcement or medicine.

They've been called to help out local law enforcement five times this year.