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Search, Rescue Crews Practice As Warmer Months Increase Likelihood of Drowning

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Search, Rescue Crews Practice As Warmer Months Increase Likelihood of Drowning

CREATED Jun 14, 2014
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Drowning's are more prevalent during this time of year. Crews with Metro’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) are always prepared to deal with worst case scenarios.

“Water… can be very tricky,” Cpt. David Crane explained. “It's powerful, relentless and constant.”

Saturday crews were back on Percy Priest Lake. Thankfully this time, they were there for training.

Together crews practiced different scenarios. A boat uses sonar equipment to scan the water.

That's necessary in situations where a specific search area has not been identified. Communications officers and line tenders stayed on dry land guiding the divers. Meanwhile the divers navigated the murky waters attempting to locate the victim, often in low visibility.

“When we try to find someone underwater it's all by feel,” Cpt. Crane said. “Our eyesight does us no good so we're literally only able to cover what we can feel.”

It's a practice they hope to never have to use, but during the warmer months their training is often is put to the test.

“I've been working recoveries in one shape, form or fashion since 1991 and I know the circumstances, the potential is there,” Cpt. Crane said. “But personally I have never made a recovery of a drowning victim that was wearing a life jacket.”

The beauty and serenity of Percy Priest and other bodies of water can be deceiving, often masking the real dangers

“The conditions can become overwhelming at the blink of an eye and you don't realize what you're into before it's too late.”

Divers warn that lakes and rivers are often deeper than they seem. At Percy Priest Lake for example, shallow water quickly turns into a 60 foot drop with one step. Another concern that they have is when people have too much to drink and then get in the water. Divers stress that a life jacket can make all of the difference.

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