KEUKA PARK — State police scuba divers took to the choppy, cloud-darkened waters of Keuka Lake on Wednesday to sharpen their water rescue safety skills.
Roughly a dozen certified divers from Troop E were briefed on the latest safety techniques before teaming up for simulated rescues off Keuka State Park. The annual Scuba and Aviation units’ exercise was designed to ensure the safety of the experienced divers and those in peril.
Emergency response from the air adds another dimension to retrieving people in danger of drowning, said Tech. Sgt. Greg Vaillancourt of Batavia. “It’s a confusing environment as it is,” he said. “It’s very noisy. The helicopter itself contributes to the noise.”
There also is a difference in the type of retrievals. Rescue efforts look to locate people believed to be alive; recovery plans search for those likely to be dead, said Senior Diver Trooper James Bailey of Painted Post.
And that distinction is an important one, although the decision is difficult. Typically, hopeful rescues taking longer than an hour — the “magic” hour — are likely to become saddened recoveries.
“There are so many factors … temperature, weather conditions, it’s hard to say. It’s always hard to say,” Bailey said.
He recalled a scuba team rescue after a boat sank on an area lake. Although the boat was submerged well past an hour, one passenger was in an air pocket and grabbed a rescuing scuba diver’s arm.
The question often is “how much risk you’re willing to put your team in,” Vaillancourt said.
The risk is real enough for the divers, who put their lives on the line, he said. “There’s something else for these guys. They care about rescuing (victims); they really want to help.”
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At noon, Chesapeake Sport Pilot will be firing up the grill with plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers to go around for the community picnic. Contributions of a side dish are welcome but not required.
“Our introductory flight lessons are a great way to try out a light sport airplane and flying lessons,” said Chesapeake Sport Pilot Chief Flight Instructor Helen Woods.
At 1 p.m. Chesapeake Sport Pilot Flight Instructor Mike Bangert will teach a free seminar about “Aging and the Learning Process.” This seminar will cover the effects of aging on the learning process and how it affects pilots, whether you are a new student just beginning to fly, or an experienced pilot considering a change in your type of flying.
At 2 p.m., Chesapeake Sport Pilot Flight Instructor Chris Criswell will teach a free seminar “Gyroplane Facts and Safety.” This seminar will discuss the history and safety record of gyroplanes, and today’s modern gyroplane industry. If you’ve wondered how these aircraft work, or what it would be like to fly one, you won’t want to miss this discussion.
Woods said the school has a lot to celebrate this year.
“After seven and a half years in business, we have flown nearly 20,000 hours, been recognized as one of the top 50 flight school in the country, graduated dozens of pilots, and given thousands of people the opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of flight in a light sport aircraft,” Woods said. “If that doesn’t deserve a celebration, I don’t know what does.”
For more information or to RSVP for the party or Young Eagle flights, visit www.chesapeakesportpilot.com or contact CSP at Helen@chesapeakesportpilot.com or 410-604-1717.