Douglas, Sarpy County authorities take part in water rescue drill at Lake Zorinsky

Several metro authorities took part in a water rescue drill at Lake Zorinsky ahead of the holiday weekend.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 4:44 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - This is only a drill -- but much too often, what’s practiced at Lake Zorinsky in Omaha is put to use in a real emergency.

“Usually, somebody will call 911 and say, ‘My loved one went in at this point,’” said Paul Wartenbee with the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office. “From there, we’ll set up a grid pattern to start searching that area.”

Rescue teams from the Douglas and Sarpy County Sheriff’s Offices, Nebraska Game and Parks, Omaha, Papillion, and Bellevue were all present -- working to get to know each other...and their equipment.

“We have multiple agencies out here and a lot of them have equipment other agencies haven’t seen,” said Sgt. Mark Shiller with SCSO. “The first portion of this scenario was for all the agencies to familiarize themselves with each other, with all the different equipment we have.”

Technology is a big part of water rescues. Some rescue boats in the metro are equipped with sonar.

Several Omaha agencies brushed up on their water rescue skills in advance of the holiday weekend.

“I really like the 50-feet mark. Some people set it to auto depending on your depth and your distance will allow you to pick and choose what it scans.”

“A lot of times when we do have water-related emergencies, it’s multi-agency response because at times, we may be covering a large area,” they explained. “Especially when you’re in a river system, the victim may be moving naturally downstream.”

Today’s major lesson in this classroom on the lake: Getting to know each other’s equipment and how each team is equipped.

“I want them to have a familiarization with all the equipment and a familiarization with the other agencies because we never know where it’s going to help, and we request each other’s assistance a lot,” Shiller said.

Officials tell 6 News they will conduct these training sessions again in the fall and winter.