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Friday

September 2014

19

Todd M. Nehls | Thanks For Listening


Water rescue resources inadequate

The inability for Dodge County to mobilize and deploy the necessary resources to perform a water rescue last winter gave us leaders in the first responder community pause. Yes, we do have a couple of certified divers within the local fire departments, but the level of training, lack of equipment and number of personnel are far from ideal.

We have now initiated a countywide committee to study the development of a regional dive and rescue team. The committee is co-chaired by Beaver Dam Fire Chief Alan Mannel and me, and we have representation from throughout the Dodge County first responder community.

A water rescue team is a resource you hope you never need, but when you do it's essential. We have dated equipment and few personnel so we have no depth or bench should the team be needed. During the last event, we had to rely upon teams from Portage and Fond du Lac, teams that require a significant amount of time to contact, assemble, deploy and arrive. This delay in response is unacceptable, and I feel the citizens in Dodge County deserve more and have higher expectations that we can meet.

Our committee is asking several questions including what the team should look like, what capabilities are required, who coordinates it and most importantly, how it would be funded. One thing we have come to a consensus on is we are currently inadequately prepared for any open water, ice or fast water rescue. We have further determined we will seek to establish a regional team of personnel from throughout the county. This is important as almost every city, village and town has water hazards such as lakes, streams, rivers and ponds.

I am encouraged by the level of interest from personnel in both the fire and police services. A joint team of first responders is our first choice, but we are also looking at the potential within our communities, citizens who currently hold certification in the skills we need and working our way through the conversation on how, if necessary, we can use citizens to assist in our efforts. A goal is to have something in draft by early 2013, a minimum of 10 team members with skills exceeding basic scuba diving, and the necessary mechanism for funding and oversight.

When it is your loved one in the water or under the ice, you will have an expectation we will be there quickly and facilitate a positive outcome. Right now, we cannot assure you of that, and I feel this inadequacy is one of significant importance for Dodge County to correct.

From the office of Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls, tnehls@co.dodge.wi.us or@sheriffnehls on Twitter.

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