LPD assist in water search and rescue training

FORT SILL, Okla. - The Lawton Police Department Dive Team assisted Fort Sill's Water Search and Rescue Unit with a training session at Medicine Creek on Fort Sill.

The LPD holds a weeklong training session at the beginning of the summer every year, this year, however, officers are coming fresh off a dive recovery of a stolen bank bag at Cache Creek just a week ago.

It was the third and final training location for the divers; they trained at Lake Lawtonka and Lake Ellsworth earlier this week.  They usually spend the final day at the Lake Elmer Thomas recreation area, but after last week's search, they decided to spend the final day in the running waters of Medicine Creek.

"The visibility is bad, you are sweeping around, and you are making it worse.  There is a whole lot of difference between this and what they have been teaching us," said Scot Finney of the Fort Sill Fire Department.

The current in the creek also presents a unique problem for searchers.

"With a current it is very very hard to search for a small item, because it is very hard to stay on the bottom and actually use your hands to search with the current trying to sweep you downstream," said Lawton Police Officer Tim Poff.

Trainers tossed in a couple of small items for the team to recover, to simulate the Cache Creek search.

"Last week was the first time we have actually done a dive team mission with a current and it was kind of a learning experience for the guys on the team that have not been in a current," said LPD Lt. Charles Crawford.

The Fort Sill Team was thrilled to have the opportunity to train with the Lawton Police.

"Calling on their years of experience makes it so much easier, because they have been doing it, they know how to do it, and they know the pitfalls of doing it.  It helps us out to where we learn some of those pitfalls before we get in them," said Finney. "When you are prepared for things like this, it makes things go a whole lot better, as to when you are pro-active, versus just knee-jerk situations to where you are just thrown into something."

The Fort Sill Team has some experience with swift-water rescues of people, but not objects retrieval. They wanted to be ready for everything. The Lawton Police Divers agree.  They say a lot of the training is repetitive, but the more they practice, the better they can be in a real situation, which might be saving a life.