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Founded in 1947, the unit was initially organized to provide volunteer assistance in the recovery of drowning victims. Since then, the unit has expanded its operations to include search and recovery. Over the years the unit has responded to more than 600 drowning and over 1000 search and recovery operations for various departments, agencies and private individuals. In fulfilling these missions, the unit serves Eastern Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. The unit is the only volunteer dive operation in the world to utilize three different Surface Supplied Diving Systems in conjunction with SCUBA. Through training and practice, the unit has become proficient in the use of its equipment and is able to operate in many different water conditions. The unit has rescued people from rain swollen streams, helped free-trapped motor vehicle occupants and recovered victims from very deep quarries. The unit provides rescue personnel for major water events and conducts community water safety programs.
The unit provides various specialized services to the community by assisting agencies and departments. The unit works with law enforcement agencies to locate evidence and clues that help solve crimes and resolve other incidents. Unit personnel are trained in observing, handling, and documenting evidence. The unit also supports fire departments by refilling air packs. The unit has an air compressor and three separate cascade air storage systems, two of which are mobile. When dispatched, the unit will take a mobile cascade to the scene and refill air packs on location, saving time and possibly lives. The unit also responds to emergency calls from public facilities, to inspect or temporarily repair a dangerous situation.