Atlantic Beach Rescue Unit and Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department conducted a multi agency drill on March 20, 2015.
Atlantic Beach, NY - March 22, 2015 - Atlantic Beach Rescue Unit and Lawrence-Cedarhurst Fire Department conducted a multi-agency drill on March 20, 2015. The two rescue agencies convened on a cold Sunday early March morning. With water temps hovering just above freezing and a snow covered beach, both water rescue teams focused on Cold Water Immersion rescue and treatment along with jetty and surf extractions. With the help of the OSCAR M. ( Ocean Safety Carry And Rescue Manikin ) both squads donned their drysuits and safety apparatus in 3’ surf, 36˚ water temps, 37˚ air temps and took to the ocean with jetty rescue and surf extraction evolutions.
The drill started with an advanced slide and video presentation on Cold Water Immersion/Hypothermia physiology and pathophysiology geared for the rescue and medical branches by Water Rescue Instructor Lt ( ret.) Scott Zelenetz and the Nassau County FIrematic Water Rescue Association. The departments continued on to the beach where all participants had a chance to experience realistic scenarios of cold water immersion.
Chief Jack McHugh of Lawrence Cedarhurst FD reminded the participants - "spring is approaching after a very cold, late winter - cold water immersion is a serious threat. Water temps are still in the 30˚s, yet soon air temps will be in the 70s and fishermen, kayakers, paddle boarders and other recreational users of our waterways will be out and about. The warm air temps lull them into a false sense of security as water temperatures will not less than 50˚ in April when they start hitting the water. Sudden immersion into cold water without the insulation of a wetsuit or a drysuit can create a threat of immediate drowning due to gasp reflex or hypothermia, which is deadly. This drill refresher our rescue and medical teams about the components necessary to provide for the best possible outcome of a cold water immersion incident. It is imperative for the users of our waterways to understand that water will remain cold longer than previous years. If you are out early please make sure you wear your pfd and insulation.”
Chief Kohan of Atlantic Beach Rescue added, "drills like this are extremely important this time of the year. Cold water responses are extremely technical and can be dangerous for the rescuers, This interagency drill fosters interoperability between our agencies and our shared knowledge and resources make us more effective than a single agency response. Atlantic Beach Rescue Unit has been training and responding with LCFD water team for many years along our common waterways and our communities are safer as a result."
Atlantic Beach Fire District Commissioner, Water Rescue Captain (ret.) and President of Nassau Firematic Water Rescue Association Nathan (Queeg) Etrog was on hand to observe the drill. Commissioner Etrog stated, "Any time in the water for a water rescue team is well spent. Going in with challenging conditions is what helps us understand our capabilities, strengths, weaknesses and limits. Doing so in a controlled environment with the people we will be responding with is what make us an effective team and certainly prepares both agencies for the most challenging of rescues and allows us to function at a very high level to ensure the best possible outcome for each and every rescue.
By the end of the drill the members of both departments were cold and tired. Each participant left the drill with a better understanding of how our bodies function and lose function in cold water. They all acquired the additional knowledge of what occurs physiologically to the victim of cold water immersion and hypothermia along with a better comprehension of the necessary response and treatment for these victims.