Lake Rescues: Working Together

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POSTED: Saturday, July 11, 2009 --- 3:00 p.m.

On a gorgeous day like today lakes in and around Madison are packed with boaters.

With people come problems and when disaster strikes on the lake it's hard to tell who'll be there to help.

It is a worst case scenario for boaters. An accident on the water leaves them hurt, scared and helpless.

Lake rescue teams rush to the victims and paramedics wait.

Madison Fire Department Division Chief Michael Popovich says, "If it wasn't for people doing silly things on the water we might not go out as often."

For the rescue teams practice makes perfect and this drill is a situation that plays out in reality all too often.

Saturday morning the Madison Fire department, Dane County Sheriff's Office, UW Lifesaving and Maple Bluff Fire Department all responded to this staged crash scene. The reality is that multiple departments are pretty common on the water.

Unlike being on land, when you're on the water the jurisdictions aren't so cut and dry so these departments need to be able to work together.

Brad Ingersoll with the Maple Bluff Fire Department says, "The Lake rescue has only been three or four years so we're really new in the ballgame getting up to speed on it."

For smaller departments like Maple Bluff practice and training with Madison, who have 50 trained divers, is invaluable.

Ingersoll says, "If they're not available we may be the first ones on scene and have to perform some of the duties that they would normally do on the lake."

With so many communities claiming lakefront responsibility you never know who'll be there to help.