Into the Deep – Walton County’s public safety Special Ops Team

Residents in and around Walton County will soon be looking forward to spending some recreational time at the newly constructed Hard Labor Creek Reservoir in Walton County. Despite the drought, the reservoir filled up quickly and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources has been stocking it with fish for the past two years.
Soon local fisherman will be able to throw a line in the water and fish for blue gill, redcar sunfish, shell crackers channel catfish, large mouth bass and black crappie.
“The Public Access Area is scheduled to open in late 2017 to early 2018; including a boat ramp, dock, parking area, and restroom facility,” said Jimmy Parker of Precision Planning, project manager for the Hard Labor Creek Reservoir. “The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is currently stocking the Hard labor Creek Regional Reservoir with various fish species, regularly monitoring the fisheries status, and will provide recommendations on when the reservoir should be open for public fishing.

Walton County Public Safety Special Ops Team. Photo credit: Walton County Fire Rescue

There won’t be any recreational swimming or diving allowed in what is primarily a source for drinking water, but nature lovers will be able to take electric or self-propelled boats out on the lake, go kayaking, or just spend some quality family time picnicking next to the water. But along with these new recreational opportunities comes another set of dangers, and it is for that reason that Walton County Public Safety authorities included dive certification in its special ops training. Recreational activities near a large body of water always raises the potential for drownings.
“We started about two years ago,” said Walton County Fire Rescue Chief Mike Moore. “What we were doing was creating specialized teams for rope rescue, for rescue in high or low or confined spaces as well as for hazmat situations, but we knew the reservoir was coming so we included a dive team to go along with that. It is a joint venture between us, Walton County Sheriff’s Office and some of the city people.
The Walton County Special Ops Team is headed up by Capt. John Hall, a nine-year veteran officer of Walton County Fire Rescue and includes swift water rescue as well as a public safety dive team along with other specialized training.
“The team will be called the Walton County Special Ops Team and will encompass a dive team that includes Walton County Sheriff’s Office as members of the team. All other aspects of the team will be made up of Walton County Fire Rescue and Loganville Fire Department at this time with the invitation to all other fire departments in the county to join,” Hall said. “This includes high angle and low angle rescue as well as hazmat and trench rescue. Types of rescues may include bringing someone down from high places such as off of water towers or roofs or bringing someone up a steep embankment. Hazardous materials include gas spills or unknown chemicals that may be released. Unfortunately when we may need the dive team it will probably be for a recovery after a drowning or assisting Walton County Sheriff’s Office with looking for evidence.”

For the full story on Walton County’s Special Ops Team, click or tap on this link in the latest issue of Walton Living Magazine – or pick up a print copy at the Walton County Chamber of Commerce or any of the city halls or libraries in Walton County.

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