The Travis County Sheriff’s Office Underwater Recovery Team (S.U.R.T.) was formed in March 1998 to replace an all-volunteer civilian team in an effort to enhance underwater investigations done in Travis County.
The Team is comprised of Law Enforcement Bureau personnel for more accurate reporting in recoveries of drowning victims and evidence. It is made up of divers, topside personnel and one volunteer medic. Training occurs twelve times a year, once each month. Training topics include search and recovery techniques, diver rescue, deep diving, limited visibility diving, night operations and specialized equipment familiarization. The Team has at its disposal a 26’ pontoon style dive boat, a 16’ equipment trailer, an underwater metal detector, an underwater video camera with topside monitor and digital video recorder, underwater communications equipment and contaminated water protection suits.
Dive missions are generally for the recovery of drowning victims; however, calls for evidence recovery and stolen vehicles are also made. Most dives are in extremely low visibility conditions under highly stressful conditions. The Team has performed approximately 70 missions since its existence.
S.U.R.T. divers and topside personnel are expected to show proficiency in water skills by performing a swimming evaluation once a year and must have an annual medical release form signed by a physician. They must also be current in first aid and CPR.
The S.U.R.T. members are highly dedicated to this aspect of their job without much in the way of compensation. They know that they are performing an invaluable service to this Office and to the residents of Travis County.