Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, July 19, 1999

Howard Lake Fire Department trains for water rescue

By Andrea Vargo

Amid the good-natured joking ran an undercurrent of seriousness, as the Howard Lake Fire Department and ambulance crew went through a successful water rescue in its training exercise, recently.

Volunteer victims were transported to deep water in style on Rod Werner's pontoon. Werner is a retired fireman and still helps in any way he can.

The three brave victims, Paul Utne, Merlin Drusch, and Taddy Drusch, went into the water, which was not all that warm, in their swimsuits or shorts.

By the time they got out into the chilly air, they were shivering and full of goosebumps.

Each victim feigned injuries of different types. The first victim rescued from the water was unconscious with a broken femur.

As three rescuers surrounded him in the water, they stabilized his neck, took vital signs, and reported the extent of visible injuries to Steve Berg, who was on the pontoon with a radio for communication to the ambulance and other rescue vehicles on shore.

Berg directed the action from the deck of the boat and sent an attendant personal watercraft, ridden by Scott Graham, to the shore for a backboard to help lift the victim out of the water.

In communication with the waiting ambulance crew on shore, Berg also called for an air pressure cast to immobilize the broken leg.

Every few minutes, Berg asked the crew in the water to relay vital signs, pulse, and respirations.

The air pressure cast was placed on the broken leg and inflated.

The victim was stabilized and secured to the floating backboard, and then the rest of the team on the pontoon helped lift the victim to the deck of the boat.

Further assessment of injuries and vital signs were relayed to shore via radio by Berg, so the ambulance team could be ready to take over and transport the victim to a hospital.

It was a training exercise to prepare the rescue teams for just such an accident with multiple victims.

And when they were finished, they did it again.

One note about retired fireman Werner. According to several of the rescuers, Werner was participating in a training exercise similar to this about six years ago.

A rescuer in the water asked Werner to throw him a backboard.

He did. Unfortunately, he picked one that didn't float. It sank from sight and wasn't recovered.

Werner received a lot of ribbing for that.

Four years later, Werner retired from the fire department, and the firemen gave him a very special present.

It was the backboard Werner had lost, all covered with green slime and yuck.

Howard Lake Police Officer Lenny Keyes found it on the shore of the lake not too long before Werner's retirement.

He and other volunteer firemen never really retire. They help when they can, as in driving a pontoon for a training exercise.

It appears you can retire a fireman, but you can't retire a volunteer.

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