By GINA KINSLOW
Glasgow Daily Times
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife law enforcement officers from 15 counties in central and southern Kentucky underwent two days of water survival training this week at the Barren County Family YMCA.
The training provides conservation officers with information they need when patrolling the water, whether they are involved in boating, commercial or recreational fishing or hunting.
“What we are doing is we are covering the safety aspects of going into the water and how they handle it in all sorts of weather,” said Lt. Richard Adkins with the agency’s headquarters in Frankfort.
Among the things the officers learned during the training was how to use their uniform pants to make a life jacket. The officers typically wear inflatable life vests, but they learned how to use their clothing as a flotation device in the event the life vests malfunction.
“By being able to use their pants to make a (life vest) or to be able to manually inflate that life jacket, they’ve got some skills they can use to save themselves out there on the water,” Adkins said.
On Thursday afternoon, the officers were trained on how to handle combative individuals in the water.
“This is really about keeping them safe and putting them into situations they would not get into unless something really, really bad happened to them out there on the water, or they get into a fight on a boat and they fall over the side of the boat,” he said.
Some of the officers were new to the course, but for others, such as Lt. Brett Zalla of Barren County, it was a refresher.
There have been times when Zalla had to put the training to use.
“I have been in the water with a suspect before and fortunately, I didn’t have to engage the suspect, but this training gave me the confidence that once I was in the water with him, I knew what to do,” Zalla said.
The trainees wore tennis shoes, uniform pants, T-shirts, body armor, duty belts and 10 pounds of added weight to simulate the true weight of a gun belt.
By taking the refresher course, Zalla said he is reminded about what techniques to use if he finds himself in such a situation.
“If you have to do something, you have the confidence to know what to do,” he said.