Responders participate in water recovery training

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2019

With boats positioned in key areas on a lake in Carriere, local emergency responders practiced the skills they need to recover the remains of drowning victims from bodies of water.

Volunteer firefighters staged up on the lake as part of a simulated recovery operation, where a dummy was placed at the bottom and flanked on either side by marker buoys.

Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said the buoys were positioned on either side of the dummy to mark its general location at the bottom of the lake, simulating how a real world operation would be conducted.

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To determine the location of the dummy before placing the buoys, scanning sonar technology was placed in the lake, provided by Mark Michaud, a retired Slidell police officer who now spends his time training other agencies to dive safely and effectively in recovery operations through a non-profit organization he formed called Southeast Louisiana Underwater Search and Recovery.

Michaud said that when a real life situation occurs, he uses the sonar to get a general idea where the remains are under the water, and then employs hooks, all in an effort to get the best idea where the body is before a diver is put in the water.

Each of those routines was put into practice during last week’s training exercise.

“You can’t teach experience. They are on the boat in a real world situation learning what to do,” Michaud said.

For about four hours, the trainees staged up around the location of the dummy and watched as a diver practiced locating it before tying on flotation equipment that would make recovery easier. Once the equipment was properly attached to the dummy, Michaud inflated the floatation device attached to the dummy, allowing the team to transport the dummy closer to shore safely.