Monday, June 24, 2024

QPS officers put through their dive paces

A selection of Queensland Police Service’s most elite officers are gearing up to dive into a new role after undergoing a rigorous training and selection process to make up part of the QPS Dive Unit.

A group of 10 officers were put through their paces during a four-day selection course designed to not only show their grit and determination in often confronting environments, but also their ability to work as a team.

Of the group of 10, three officers passed the course and were sent to Sydney to complete their Occupational Diving Certificate.

The recruits will now work part time to aid the Dive Unit’s eight full time officers and bolster their capabilities to respond to urgent jobs right across Queensland.

Last year, Senior Constable Rebecca Smith became the first female officer in Queensland, the second in Australia, to successfully complete the Dive Unit selection course.

She has been working part time with the unit since.

“It was definitely one of the most challenging things I have done for myself in my policing career,” she said.

This year, Senior Constable Smith returned to help instruct the new recruits through their own application process.

“There are definitely some true leaders and some people who demonstrate the teamwork that would help them get into the unit.”

“We are looking for people who can support each other and just keep going when things get tough.”

Senior Constable Ewan McGregor has been in the job for seven years and says this year’s recruits did not hesitate when they had to dive into uncomfortable situations as a team.

“They’re really strong, they’re fit, they’ve come prepared,” he said.

Applicants were put through rigorous obstacles over the four days that aimed to test their teamwork, fitness levels, breathwork and endurance under water, as well as problem-solving skills.

On day one, recruits donned special blackout masks to remove their sense of sight before diving into one of the muddiest and murkiest parts of the Brisbane River.

“It is uncomfortable, it is quite hot, it stinks,” said Snr Constable McGregor.

“It is a good first experience for them to see if it is something they would be keen on doing because out of the jobs we do, that is probably like 99% of the jobs – smelly and uncomfortable.”

Senior Constable Chase Young from Coolum Beach station and Constable Liam Clarke from Caboolture were two of the 10 applicants to step up to the challenge.

“I have enjoyed it so far. It is definitely tough and challenging, but I am enjoying pushing myself and seeing what I am capable of,” said Snr Const. Young.

“I mainly just wanted to push myself as much as I could and see how far I could get in the QPS and I thought there is no better way than having a crack at a specialty unit,” said Const Clarke.

A large part of the Dive Unit’s role is to assist in search and rescue operations for missing persons.

Senior Constable Lars Nesbitt says the Dive Unit can be a challenging career, especially due to the nature of a lot of the jobs, but it can also be equally as rewarding.

“Often we are called in to retrieve bodies and in every one of those situations, our hearts go out to the people and families involved,” Snr Const. Nesbitt said.

“Whilst these jobs are difficult for both the family members and emergency services involved, us doing our job helps those people who have lost a loved one get some level of closure.”

“Above everything else, that is why we do what we do.”

The job is also not without its hazards.

In December last year officers from the Dive Unit were about to commence a search in the Proserpine River at Glen Isla in the Whitsundays, when a drone spotted a four-metre crocodile on a nearby embankment.

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Safety precautions were taken, and the operation was completed without incident, however QPS divers can face hazards like this almost daily and they need to be prepared for whatever scenario is thrown at them.

Another aspect of their role includes assisting police investigations where crucial evidence has been discarded.

“We go anywhere in Queensland where there’s water,” Senior Constable McGregor said.

“There is always something happening.

“You will be given a task in finding a phone that you might spend two days trying to find it and when you find it, it’s honestly the best feeling. It is instant gratification.”

It won’t be long before the latest intake of recruits experiences that same rush of adrenaline when they are sent out on their first assignments.

Image of police diver

Police officers aren’t born, they’re made, with every challenge or adversity overcome, and their personal values, helping to shape them into great officers who can make a real difference.

There is no better time to join the QPS. You’re already ready.

Visit PoliceRecruit.com.au to check your eligibility today.

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