GOLD HILL, Ore. -- 42 students and instructors from 11 different law enforcement agencies and fire departments from all over Oregon spent hours jumping in and out of the 48 degree Rogue River, learning how to save people from drowning. This was the next step after a two-week long marine academy.
"It was rough, I won't lie. It was strenuous. The white water was a little bit overwhelming but the instructors got us through it. They told us what we need to do and if you did what they told you to everything went fine,” said student and Fish and Wildlife Sergeant with the Oregon State Police in Tillamook County, Greg Plummer.
The Oregon State Marine Board (OSMB) said this training is not supposed to be easy. For several years, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office has hosted the Drift Boat Operation Course along the Rogue River. Deputies said it the Rogue River is a great place to learn and operate non-motorized boats in the training’s scenarios.
"The job here is to make sure they can do these survival and rescue techniques efficiently and safely,” said OSMB’s Marine Law Enforcement Training Coordinator Eddie Persichetti. “To protect their lives and meanwhile possibly rescue someone else’s life."
Monday students practiced using rescue throw bags full of rope, tossing them out to each other in the water.
"The swift water was kind of challenging. They had us swim across [the river] to an eddy and getting there was kind of hard," added student and deputy with the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office, Dennis Greiner.
Persichetti said the training gets more difficult as the week goes on.
“The safety of law enforcement is priority,” added Persichetti. They have to learn how to do these rescue techniques to save themselves before they can save somebody else."
The OSMB and the various law enforcement agencies and fire departments that are participating in this training want to remind people having fun on rivers and lakes this summer to always wear a life jacket. They also want to remind people that the water is still very cold and it is possible to suffer from hypothermia in the Rogue River in just five minutes.
Next month, the OSMB will hold a jet boat training in Gold Beach.