First responders from several Junction City/Geary County agencies continue to train toward certification in the hopes of forming a dive team who will be able to conduct water rescues.

Shortly after Geary Count Sheriff Dan Jackson took office, he determined his jurisdiction needed something it didn’t have yet — something few counties in Kansas have.

It needed a dive team full of trained professionals who could perform water rescues.

Geary County is home to Milford Lake, the largest manmade lake in Kansas. It covers 15,700 acres at normal pool elevation of 1144.4. It’s a popular tourist destination for those who enjoy boating and the outdoors in general.

Because of this, Jackson felt his community could benefit from a dive team.

He wanted to provide the community and its visitors with readily-available life saving measures. This would be especially important during the warmer months, when Milford Lake sees an increase in recreational boaters and boating activities.

Now, Jackson and his crew are proud to announce the formation of the Geary County Dive Team.

In previous years, Geary County had often turned to outside agencies for help with incidents in bodies of water such as Homer’s Pond and Milford Lake.

The group is composed of local police, sheriff’s deputies, and members of the Junction City Fire Department.

Starting in late July of this year, interested deputies and firefighters met with Jeff Freeborn of Flinthills Scuba, who performed underwater testing on the applicants.

JCFD Firefighter Jason Lankas also conducted a swimming assessment on applicants. Lanka holds lifeguard and swift water rescue swimmer certifications.

The results of these examinations were provided to Jackson and Junction City Fire Chief Terry Johnson.

Most recently, team members spent the weekend at Beaver Lake in Arkansas where they received their dive certifications from Freeborn.

The training and testing continues as team members strive to become a Certified Public Safety Dive Team. In two weeks, the team will come one step closer to their goal when members return to Beaver Lake to obtain their Advanced Diver Certification.

The team consists of 11 people: Lt. Thad Jones, Sgt. Shawn Weeks, Sgt. Kirt Nichols, Deputy James Regalado, Deputy Jason Everson, Deputy Clint Arnold , Firefighter Jason Lankas, Firefighter John Shepek, Firefighter Todd Bogenhagen, Firefighter Yeriera Bell, and Firefighter Paul Rabek.

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