SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (WFRV) – Just off the coast of Lake Michigan, a few brave men are taking a plunge.
The Sheboygan Fire Department — along with the County Sheriff and Ocean Rescue Systems from Portland, Maine — are conducting surf rescue training at various key locations along the shoreline.
“We’re here to serve the community so a lot of times, for instance, the Coast Guard might be doing work down in Milwaukee or even across the lake- we’re here to provide that capability of rescue,” says Jeff Salzman, Battalion Chief with the Sheboygan Fire Department. “Also, when there’s a rescue, the more people or the more assets doing that, the better it is and the faster it is we can get somebody out of the water.”
The advanced training is being performed to address the hazardous potentials along the Lake Michigan shoreline and to better prepare a team rescue response that is safe, efficient, and effective. There is an end goal to the advanced training and that is to certify six Sheboygan Fire Department members as Public Safety Rescue Swimmers. Doing so will also provide an opportunity for said certified members to work closely with the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department boat operators in a real surf environment, learning more effective surf rescue techniques.
“We’re swimming, we’re learning some of the techniques of entering and exiting the water safely along with boats,” says Chase Longmiller, Lieutenant with Sheboygan Fire Department. “Knowing the conditions that we’ve seen out here and knowing the rescues that we could be faced with, there’s always been a need and an interest in growing that rescue capability. So working with our Battalion Chief of safety training and our chief we’ve been trying to growing this and we’re finally at that point.”
Once trained, the six rescue swimmers will pass along skills and additional training to the rest of the fire department first responders. Doing so will add another layer of water rescue capability to local response and will serve to increase the level of safety for those who would visit the Sheboygan lakeshore.
“This is the seed that the program is going to grow from so it’s going to take a little bit of time for us to develop that and figure out exactly how we approach our specific problems here in the department,” said Salzman. “These are the guys that will be moving that program forward so it’s something that we’ll be working on in the future as well.”
Training will be taking place over the course of the next three days just off the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.