BARRY COUNTY, Mich. — Law enforcement officials from all Southwest Michigan counties came together for the 5th annual District Regional Dive Team Training.
"The more that these dive teams work together and get used to working together, the easier it makes it if something else happens or takes place," said Van Buren County Emergency Manager Lt. Bob Kirk.
On Thursday, a total of 39 divers from nine different counties went out on Gun Lake to train in search and recovery for victims and evidence.
"The way this operates is that we have basically created a scenario. We have six zones set up in the scenario, where we have submerged things like kayaks, canoes, dummies and stuff in the water," said Lt. Kirk.
The two-day exercise mimics real-life scenarios that law enforcement officials and dive teams would encounter.
"For the first day, what we did was had these teams come up in their boats with sonar to try and track where these items are in the water and call in the coordinates. The second day we sent in the team of divers to go to those coordinates to see if they could locate those items," said Lt. Kirk.
While many of the teams train together on a monthly basis, Lt. Kirk said the exercise helps bring everyone to one area to work through communication. The goal is to become a more cohesive unit where they can solve problems and work to see what works best before an actual incident.
"Manpower can tend to be an issue. Let’s say something happens in Kalamazoo County, and they’ve only got two or three divers available; they can count on the surrounding counties," said Lt. Kirk.
A lot of the equipment used is obtained through grant money, so Lt. Kirk said the exercise is a way to prove it actually works. They also want to make sure the dive teams are prepared when called upon.
"For the average person at home, it is knowing that each county has a team that is professional and is able to respond to situations like this as required," said Lt. Kirk.
The two training days were comprised of a total of 16 hours.