La Crosse Police Complete Water Survival Training

Early this week, the La Crosse Police Department hosted an intense training course on basic water survival.  For eight hours, La Crosse Police Training Director Lt. Troy Nedegaard trained participants on water safety including rescue, self-defense, and personal self-awareness in the water.  As Lt. Nedegaard stated, “everyone believes that they’re comfortable in the water – good swimmers.  But take away the idea that they’re swimming for fun and add a full uniform including a vest, seven-pound duty belt, and boots, and most people will find it’s a lot harder than they thought.”

One part of the training, aimed at raising everyone’s awareness of their skill level in the water, was to tread water in full uniform.  After receiving instruction regarding a kick stroke utilized to help lessen fatigue, the participants had to tread water for at least 15 minutes!  Other parts of the training included learning how to deal with a combative subject or how to rescue a person panicking in the water.  To finish, each participant completed an obstacle course which included skills such as swimming while maintaining visual contact of the subject; diving underwater and swimming below an object; raising a 10 pound weight to the surface; and being pulled from the water by rope.

Originally this basic water survival course was only offered to members of the Water Patrol Unit.  However, due to our City’s location nestled along the river and the increased potential of our members to interact with patrons on or near the water, this year’s course was open to all sworn officers and civilian service employees.

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The Water Patrol Unit consists of 22 sworn officers specifically trained in Water Patrol Operations who patrol over 19 miles of waterways within the City of La Crosse.  Started in 2014 with a grant from the U.S. Coast Guard which is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Water Patrol Unit was the first for our Department in over 30 years!  Throughout the boating season last year, the Water Patrol Officers responded to over 160 boating-related contacts and calls for service, working nearly 300 hours on the water.  The Officers issued 22 boating citations and 28 warnings.  Several boating incidents were investigated, including a boating crash that occurred when a boat struck a floating tree.  The boaters had to be rescued at night from the sinking boat.  The Unit was also involved in several searches for missing boaters and persons.

In addition to the basic water survival course, Water Patrol Unit members also complete annual trainings such as boat operation with the Department of Natural Resources, search and rescue, and applying Standardized Field Sobriety Tests on the water, amongst others.




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