New water safety device already paying dividends in Berrien County

Just last week, two people were saved from Lake Michigan, off of Warren Dunes. They were only about 100 yards from shore but struggled due to the temperature of the water.

It's amazing they were saved but the way they were saved is what makes it interesting.

Police used a new device called Res-Q-Max to pull the two individuals from the water. The device looks and sounds like a rocket launcher but has a much different purpose.

The device has an enclosed flotation device at the head of a cylinder. The cylinder, which is charged up to 3,000 PSI, is locked into the launcher. The cylinder is connected to the device by 200 yards of line which is used to pull a victim to safety. Once the cylinder is locked into the device, the Res-Q-Max is ready for use.

Officer Rob Hahn of the Chikaming Township Police Department was trained only three weeks before using the device last week to save the life of both individuals.

"I knew right away I would deploy the Res-Q-Max and it worked really well," Officer Hahn said. "I was happy once it hit the water that the sling deployed and it was able to save those two people's lives."

The reason the device is so important is because of its speed. Officer Hahn estimated the rescue mission took about ten minutes, whereas a normal rescue mission can take anywhere from 30-35 minutes. And that time is precious due to the temperature of the lake.

"Really the one thing I was worried wasn't the drowning," Officer Hahn said. "It was the hypothermia because the water is still really cold."

The Res-Q-Max also allows officers to help from the shore, making themselves a valuable resource as first responders to the scene.

"I think every department should start trying to find ways to get at least one," Officer Hahn said. "It makes a huge difference allowing us to respond quicker and actually be able to do something on the beach instead of standing there helplessly."

The Res-Q-Max does carry a price, while it may not be as much as you would assume at $2,100. The Chikaming Township Police Department was able to apply for a grant through the Pokagon Fund which supplied enough money for four devices.

"It has definitely been proven effective by Officer Hahn," Chief Todd Taylor said. "I would suggest every city along the coast line to invest."
While this new technology will definitely help to save lives, it is there to help insure a safe rescue.

"Lake Michigan has the most fatalities of all the Great Lakes especially here in the south east corner of the lake," Chief Taylor said. "My suggestion for people would be if there are white caps on the waves, do not go in the water. We're happy to have these tools on hand but you have to realize when the water is bad."

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