Causeway Police practice water rescue training

Published: Jun. 22, 2014 at 1:50 AM CDT
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With warmer weather and more travelers on the road, the Causeway Police Department spent the morning tackling water rescues. It's a call no one wants to get, but when it happens - officers have to be ready.

"Each year we train our officers on the equipment that we have, our rescue trucks, and all the equipment specialized for water rescue training," said Sgt. Mike Kelly with the department. Each rescue scenario is different, but choppy waters and strong currents are just a few of the dangers out there.

Corporal Michael Bernard with the department plays the "victim" - suits up, climbs down into Lake Pontchartrain waters. The rescue is a two-man job. One jumps in to help and stabilize the victim; the other works the crane. The machine lowers a basket to get people out of the water.

"We try to make it a basic training drill," said Kelly. "So that way they have an idea and are familiar with all the equipment."

"Right away, your adrenaline goes through the roof," said Bernard. "We need to know what we have to do, so when we get on the scene we can do it without thinking about it."

The Causeway Bridge stretches 24 miles over water, and sees 42,000 cars on average each day. So far this year, Causeway Police have already been called in for three water rescues - two of those drivers went off the bridge. Officers say keeping safe is simple.

"Obey the speed limit," said Bernard. "Don't weave in and out of traffic. There's no reason to endanger yourself or other people in the vehicle to get there a few minutes early."

But today's training is for those moments when survival is measured in seconds.

"At any given time, something could happen," said Kelly. "We have to be ready."

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