With summer approaching, Crown Point Fire Rescue on Friday wrapped up its third annual Dive Week, which brought together several agencies, including Cedar Lake, Hobart, and Merrillville Fire departments, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and Indiana District 1 MABAS 207 USAR/Technical Rescue. The training kicked off at Crown Point High School on Monday, where dive teams focused on self-rescue, including entanglement, dexterity and buoyancy; rescuing distress divers; and uprighting an overturned boat. Day two of training was held at Lake Fancher in the Lake County Fairgrounds, where trainees focused on sub-surface vehicle search and recovery. Divers also utilized underwater metal detectors for evidence search, recovery and identification. Day three brought trainees to the Kankakee River to practice various disciplines in swift water rescue, including rope rescue, river diving in a current and boat rescue operations. Cedar Lake was the home base for day four of training where trainees focused on side scan sonar and robotic rover sonar and performed dive operations. On the final day of Dive Week, trainees completed a long week of training at Haigh Quarry in Kankakee County, Illinois, with a recreational dive and cookout. While recreational, divers worked on buoyancy, navigational skills and air management.
“We’re also looking for ways to sharpen our skills,” Crown Point Fire Chief Mark Baumgardner Jr. said. “While we hope we never have to use these skills, it is important for our dive teams to stay sharp. Water rescues require physical and mental strength and a lot of specialty training and equipment.” Dive Week would not be possible without the support of local organizations, including the Cedar Lake Firefighters Association, Chicago Water and Fire, Dive Right in Scuba, Midnight Blue Towing and Oak Partners, Inc., which provided lunch and training resources, Baumgardner added.
The news release also said while Crown Point does not have large bodies of water like Lake Michigan, there are 70-plus retention ponds and lakes that are more than 15 feet deep, most averaging 20-30 feet deep, small ponds and lakes they say account for a lot of drownings and near-drownings, as well as vehicles that end up in these bodies of water. On average, officials say Crown Point Fire Rescue spends more than $12,000 on water rescue training and equipment maintenance. The CPFR (Crown Point Fire Rescue) Dive and Water Rescue Team responds to incidents in Crown Point and surrounding communities.
To stay safe around the water this summer, Crown Point Fire Rescue Fire and Life Safety Educator Anthony Flynn recommends watching children when they are in or around water; teaching children how to swim; learning CPR and basic water rescue skills; and using properly fitted floatation devices with a U.S. Coast Guard-approved stamp versus water wings. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1-4. “Drowning can happen in a matter of seconds and may not be obvious to those nearby. This is why it is important to know how to swim and have a responsible/undistracted person watch swimmers at all times,” Flynn said.