State police test new diving apparatus in Union quarry
Union — The Maine State Police on Nov. 28 tested diving equipment that will allow personnel to stay submerged with a "reasonably unlimited supply of air."
Detective Michael Chavez said that the state police used grant funds to purchase an Interspiro surface supply diving panel, which provides two divers at a time with compressed air from land-based tanks. A whistle alerts support staff when tanks attached to the panel must be changed, allowing the divers to experience no interruption in air flow.
Chavez described the surface supply system as "unique, and apart from what we normally do."
Divers will still wear standalone compressed air tanks as a precaution, but in the event of an emergency the air supply lines, which are rated for 2,000 pounds, can be used to quickly pull divers to safety either manually or with vehicular assistance.
Chavez said that the Union limestone quarry on Route 17 was used for the inaugural test due to its shallow depth, which the owner reportedly told police was approximately 125 feet.
During the Nov. 28 exercise, divers Detective Jerry Coleman and Trooper Dan Wooster depleted tanks in roughly 13-minute intervals, but stayed submerged for more than 30 minutes in the initial test and reached a depth of 90 feet.
Courier Publications reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.