Emergency crews train for underwater rescues & recoveries
NAPLES, Fla.- A rescue effort turns to recovery mode after a diver finds a victim trapped inside a car, but it's too late.
"We had 3 boys drive straight into a lake and drop," said North Naples Fire Department Battalion Chief John Reilly.
A diver grabs a bag to retrieve the body and goes under once again.
"People don't realize that a car can drop in 30 seconds completely submerged."
On Thursday, this scenario is just part of a drill for divers with the Collier County Sheriff's Office and fire departments like North Naples and Golden Gate. They practice on Thursday as part of a joint training exercise. The idea is to work together and improve coordination and communication.
But a scene like this one can play out for real! Just this January, a mother and her 2 young children died after their car plunged into a canal off of Alligator Alley.
"Our biggest obstacle going to that call was distance and time once we got in the water we had the first victim out in 4 minutes," said Golden Gate Battalion Chief Andy Krajewski.
When a rescue team responds, they are faced with the unknown. Most of the time they can't see anything underwater and divers rely on rope signals.
"Can't see anything, totally relying on gentlemen on shore with a rope to point them in the right direction and control their movement."
The colder the water, the better the survival rate for a victim.
"Colder water slows metabolism, slows brain death, slows heart rate...the problem we have in Florida is the water is so warm most of your successful recoveries are up north where the water is cold."
The purpose of the joint exercise is to continue training that began in 1995 between responding agencies in Collier County. Fire districts usually practice every month. All agencies practice together about twice a year.