LFR practices for real-life water rescues

By: Brittany Paris

With the weather heating up and more people heading to lakes, Lincoln Fire and Rescue is prepping for summer safety.

People were out on Branched Oak Lake Friday, soaking in the sun.

But summer fun brings reminders of water safety. LFR’s Water Rescue team strapped on their wet suits and dove into the lake’s dark water.

“To get real life experience, we use a lake that we don’t have any visibility in. So Branched Oak works well out here and we kinda get into some black water operations out here where we can’t see what we’re doing. We’re doing everything by touch and feel,” Lloyd Mueller, Water Rescue Coordinator, LFR, said.

Mueller says if someone falls off a boat, the team first tries to pin point where they were last seen. If they feel confident of the location, they’ll drop a diver down. But it’s really a team effort.

“With the system we have out there today, we actually have a com system so we can talk back and forth under water and that helps the reassurance that everything’s alright and what direction to move under water,” he said.

“They just tell me what to do because it’s so dark in there you really don’t know what you’re looking for,” Andy McLaughlin, LFR, said.

McLaughlin was diving on Friday. He says swimming in dark water by yourself can be scary, but that’s why the team practices. They don’ thave room for error during a real rescue.

“It’s a really dangerous part of the job that we have to do and just drilling and getting down our patterns getting down working with each other. Just it makes it safer. Just so you don’t panic when the real thing comes in,” he said.

And the training couldn’t come at a better time. After a busy Memorial Day weekend on the lake, a man fell off his boat and was hit by the propeller, cutting his arm and chest. He’s now in serious condition.

LFR stresses always wearing a life jacket so if you do fall out of a boat, you’ll at least surface and they won’t have to go under water to find you.