Water Rescue Drill

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Two weeks ago a family out for a boat ride on the Rock River capsized. Everyone made it out of the water OK. But for the Winnebago County Water Rescue Team it was just one more example of how important it is to be prepared.
"Train, train, train, so that when we have a worst-case scenario like this, we're ready to handle whatever they throw at us," says Mike Barnhart, of the Water Rescue Team.
That's just what the team did Wednesday night. It's comprised of twelve different emergency departments from New Milford to South Beloit, Rockford and more. They all train together once a month, rain or shine.
"Emergencies don't have an off-season, so we train on every time, day, night, nice weather, bad weather," says Barnhart.
But Wednesday Mother Nature proved too much. The Water Rescue Team had to cut its practice short because of lightning. The team didn't want to risk lives for a run-through, though in a real emergency they know they may have to.
"We weigh the situations. We always have to weigh the risk benefit. Every time we go in the water its a risk," says Barnhart.
He adds the Rock is a particularly dangerous river because its so thick with silt you can't see anything under water. He reminds us all to be safe on the water so the team's practice doesn't turn into reality.
Barnhart says boat drivers need to constantly be aware of their surroundings on the water, watch out for other boats, drive a safe speed and always have enough life jackets on board.


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