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Greenwich Cops Dive Into Cold-Water Rescues

It may seem cold outside, but if you accidentally fell into one of Greenwich's many bodies of water, it would be a whole lot colder — and extremely dangerous. The Greenwich Police Department is gearing up for the winter season and last week completed training for cold-water rescues.

The weeklong training, conducted by the Greenwich Fire Department, is to familiarize officers with methods of rescuing people submerged in icy waters.

Officer Tom Etense of the marine section of the police department took the course and plans to become an instructor. "In the first part of the program it's more of a classroom setting, and we learn about different types of ice. ... How to size up a scene in terms of who fell in, and where it is, if it's the Sound or a lake or ice in moving water like the Mianus Reservoir," Etense said after the last day of training Thursday.

After becoming familiar with different cold-water rescue tactics, it was time for the officers and firemen to get their feet wet. At the Montgomery Pinetum, they used scenario-based training to determine how cold-water rescues occur.

Though Greenwich has been lucky in the past few years, Etense said there have been instances in which cold-water training was imperative. "A few years ago a car went in [the pond] at Bruce Park and was entirely submerged," he said. "You never know when something is going to happen, and we have to be ready for that."

The fire department is primarily responsible for cold-water rescues and is equipped with dry suits that can withstand the low temperate longer. But police are first responders and also have to be prepared. Officers carry bags in their vehicles with short-term water suits, nicknamed "Gumby suits," tethers and life vests. "If we're standing in Old Greenwich and someone falls into the water at Binney Park, we can't wait around for other people to show up, we have to act," said Etense.

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