Grand Rapids Fire demonstrates water rescue
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- In the past week, the Grand Rapids Fire Department has had to mobilize their river teams three times.
The first, on August 10th, 29-year-old Robert Shoemaker of Rockford drowned off the 6th Street Dam while scuba diving.
Then on Wednesday, a man fell into the Grand River from Bridge Street. The 25-year-old was reaching for his jacket when he lost his balance and fell in.
The water rescue unit was called in and pulled him to safety.
And on Sunday, a couple launched their kayaks from Ah-Nab-Awen Park, but flipped over near the bridge.
Rescue crews were able to walk the couple to shore.
These recent emergencies show how quickly disaster can strike in many different ways.
WZZM 13 spent time with the unit within Grand Rapids Fire Department responsible for those rescues to explain how they save those struggling to stay alive in the water.
They performed a water rescue exercise at Riverside Park.
Grand Rapids Fire responds to an average of 10 water rescues a year, and 37 percent of the time they must jump in and save the person. Nearly 90 percent of those victims need medical care.
Firefighter Dan Overbeek says it's most difficult in the spring and early summer when the water is higher from winter run-off and heavy rain.
"A lot more treacherous, you can't hold the machine in one place as easy. Water moves faster, victim moves faster down the river."
The last week proves it doesn't always matter the time of year. One wrong move or bad decision can quickly lead to a slip beneath the surface.