Officers get familiar with summer water rescue equipment

Becky Vargo • Jun 20, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety are getting familiar with summer water rescue equipment this week.

A group of officers clad in lightweight dry suits worked off Grand Haven’s south pier in steady wind and rain. The group then worked its way to the Grand Haven State Park beach for offshore rescue training.

Capt. Clint Holt first had the crew enter the calm lake off a ladder to see what it was like to swim a couple lengths of a pool while wearing the dry suits.

The group learned the proper way to jump off the pier “onto the crest of a wave, rather than the trough,” so that there’s more water between the rescuer and the bottom of the lake.

They also worked on throwing a rope to a “victim” after determining current and wind direction, making sure to throw the rope so it would drift back to the victim, not away from them.

Officers also formed a chain in Lake Michigan with the warning never to go out farther than you can stand when a wave hits you.

As they trained, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead. Soon, a Coast Guard 47-foot lifeboat left the channel, and the ship and helicopter could be seen conducting a training session on the horizon.

A couple groups of young people jumped off the pier into Lake Michigan, and Holt warned one of them that a young man had broken his neck doing that earlier this summer.

There’s large boulders along the pier and a strong structure current, so officials strongly discourage pier jumping.

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