The geographical area of Ottawa County alone justified the need for such service. Ottawa County has a total of 576.94 square miles, with 323.67 square miles being of navigable waterways. The 107 miles of shoreline account for 41% of the 262 miles of Ohio’s eight counties that share Lake Erie’s southern shoreline.
At the forming of this rescue service, Ottawa County’s 182 marine facilities made up 69% of Ohio’s 383 marine facilities. These 182 marine facilities supported approx. 15,400 commercial boat docks for permanent docking or about 58% of the total commercial boat docking on Lake Erie. This number has since grown to just under 16,000. This does not include the privately owned docks nor the increasing popular dry, rack or transit boaters. This all translates to over 4,242 million man hours of boating on Ottawa County waterways and over 100,000 fishing licenses sold in Ottawa County.
Diver safety being paramount, diver training and experience is required for all members. All divers entering the water must be at least rescue certified and no diver is permitted under the ice without ice rescue training.
The services provided by this division of the Sheriff’s Office is not limited to just body rescue and recovery. Public awareness of water safety is among one of the many duties of this division. This is achieved by going to different organizations and providing presentations, by attending many parades in the county and presenting programs in the elementary schools on water safety.
Evidence recovery for all Ottawa County law enforcement agencies as well as the surrounding counties is also made available through the use of personal equipment including two underwater metal detectors and three underwater 35mm cameras. This equipment, as well as life supporting dive gear, is owned and maintained by each diver.
Tax deductible donations can be made direct to the Ottawa County Sheriff Underwater Response Team by means of cash, check or even items to be used, sold or raffled.