When Len Basara took his first scuba diving course in college, he never could have dreamed just how far the class would shape his future.
In fact, it was Basara’s skills in water rescue that made him one of six Pennsylvania individuals sent to aid in rescue efforts when Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas last year.
As for the destruction that hit Texas, Basara said the imagery hit too close to home.
“I’ve seen the Wyoming Valley suffer from high water several times, but the destruction caused by Harvey was tenfold. I have never seen anything so wide-spread and devastating before,” he said.
For his longtime dedication and knowledge as a first responder, Basara was nominated and selected to be honored by the Times Leader in its Badge of Honor special section.
While in Houston, Basara performed his mission while providing basic life support care, transporting humans and animals and more. For his actions, he was awarded a letter of commendation from the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office.
Basara initially joined the Germania House Company in 1991, later taking his first scuba class two years later at college. He quickly excelled in the water, making his way up the ranks throughout college and his career with Germania.
After reforming in 1983, the Germania Hose Company SCUBA Team has been in mainstay in the Wyoming Valley, serving not only the area but multiple states. Basara became the captain of the team in 1998, and held the position until last year. He currently serves in the role of Public Safety Diver and Rescue Technician.
Throughout his tenure Basara has completed more than 30 water rescue courses through multiple state and national agencies, and was also given the opportunity to teach divers and assist with the creation of state specialty groups, such as the Pennsylvania Helicopter Rescue Team.
Basara explained that the team has managed to excel for so long thanks to education and togetherness. A rescue diver must also maintain good judgement and rely on experience rather than compassion.
“I always followed the old axiom that we rise or fall together and made teamwork with others number one for the crew. And most important, making safety highest priority,” he said.
Being in the field for more than two decades, Basara admitted that of all the rescues and recoveries he’s participated in just two are never far from memory – the trip to Houston and his first recovery.
“You train and prepare yourself for that day but words cannot explain the moment you come across your victim lifeless underwater,” he said as he explained the scenario of that day.
While admitting that the career choice isn’t for everyone, Basara noted that he feels obligated to pass on everything he’s learned and render aid when needed.
“I feel obligated to share my knowledge with others in the classroom along with offering aid to a family whom may have been forced from their home due to rising flood waters or giving family closure by finding that missing someone.”
To read more Badge of Honor stories, click here.
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