NEGAUNEE — When it comes to saving someone’s life, time is always of the essence. A group of police officers worked on their skills below the surface today. Jerry Taylor was on hand to see the training on a body of water that doesn’t see boats on it too often.

“We have a multitude of different types of training techniques that we use. If we’re covering a lot of ground and we can use a boat, we’ll pull our divers with a tow bar.”

Ten police officers from the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office and the Marquette City Police Department took part in a joint training session Thursday at Teal Lake in Negaunee. The departments hone their scuba diving skills once a month, no matter what the weather conditions.

“Our divers are trained in a multitude of different things,” said Cpl. Errol Lukkarinen. “We trained in ice rescue, ice diving and swift water rescue.” Whether it’s trying to save someone’s life or recover evidence, communication and speed play a major outcome in the battle against time.

“In diving in a rescue mode, we usually call it ‘The Golden Hour’. In 60-minutes after a drowning, depending on the body type or the person, we have the possibility of reviving someone within 60-minutes of the drowning,” said Cpl. Lowell Larson.

“The standard of public safety diving is using a full facemask that has a microphone in the front of the mask and it has earpieces so the diver can talk to the other diver and the boat,” said Larson. “It makes the dive operation a lot more efficient instead of having to surface.”

“It’s a resource that we need to have,” said Lukkarinen. “We need to work with other agencies to accomplish our goals.”

The divers worked on their tow boar technique, going as deep as 30-feet down. Divers that took part in the exercise said their visibility underwater was very limited.

“The view was a little cloudy under water,” said Larson. “I can describe it as going through hyperspace like you see in the movies. We don’t have a clear day with the nice, bright sunshine.”
Divers are able to work faster by using the tow bar method.

“We use a boat along with a PVC tow bar and we pull our divers behind the boat to cover a lot more ground,” said Lukkarinen.

The officers look forward to their training, because they never know when their services are going to be needed.

“Just like anything if you don’t use it you’re going to lose it,” said Larson. “When we train it’s nice to come in and get the cobwebs out, bring in another agency like Marquette City (Police Department) that in the case of a real event, we’ve trained together and we’re going to work together a lot better.”

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