By Susan Sexton
susan.sexton@lstribune.net

Fifty years ago, a tragic drowning led to the official formation of Lee’s Summit Underwater Rescue & Recovery. In 1966, the group of divers was not formally trained, as there were no certification or training programs for them. Their equipment consisted of items each member owned.

The founding members began to organize and train under the direction of a former Navy Frogman, also a founding member, and thus began LSURR, an all-volunteer nonprofit organization. Today, the 10 current members, who hold fulltime jobs outside of LSURR, average over 150 volunteer hours per person and run between 80-100 calls each year in a five-state region.

On April 30, the LSURR members held a celebration and reunion at their headquarters near Lake Jacomo to commemorate 50 years of service. While enjoying some food, checking out the group’s equipment, and bidding on silent auction items, participants got to rub elbows with current and former LSURR members, local responders, and community leaders.

Jennifer Feller, member and public information officer of LSURR, said that the funds raised will help purchase new equipment such as dry suits, fins, and regulators – items that deteriorate with age or are simply damaged during use.

LSURR depends on generous private and corporate donations, grants, and funds earmarked for them by the Jackson County, MO legislature. The organization also works tirelessly and free-of-charge for law and fire agencies – agencies that depend on the specialized services provided by LSURR.

LSURR began with personally-owned equipment, but 50 years later has two Jon boats with 115 hp motors, two inflatable boats with 40 hp motors, a box truck and passenger van to transport equipment and personnel, two full face masks with communication capabilities, dry suits, two different types of sonar equipment, ice rescue equipment, and many other tools to assist in their rescue and recovery efforts.

Also, the past 50 years has brought about a change in training. All members have obtained Public Safety Diving certification and several are certified diving instructors and dive masters. The members gather once a month for training exercises to keep their skills sharp and practice different roles in the rescue and recovery process.

Congratulations and THANK YOU to all current and past members for their brave and caring service in helping community members during distressing and treacherous times!

Visit their website to learn more about LSURR, view photos of their operations and members, or to learn how you can volunteer at www.lsunderwater.org.