» Sacandaga Lake law enforcement training prepares first responders ahead of summer
First responders practice skills at the Annual Joint Sacandaga Lake Law Enforcement Training Exercise in Mayfield Thursday.
MAYFIELD — For an eighth year, first responders gathered along the Great Sacandaga Lake in Mayfield Thursday for a joint law enforcement training exercise to prepare for water emergencies ahead of Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start of summer.
Over 100 staff members from at least 15 different agencies worked together to practice a variety of training exercises that may happen around the waterways they serve. The group included the sheriff's offices of Fulton, Montgomery, Saratoga and Hamilton counties, state Department of Environmental Conservation, state police Marine, Dive Teams and Drone Units, area Emergency Services from Fulton, Montgomery and Saratoga counties, lakeside fire departments and local EMS agencies, as well as the Fulton County Coroner's Office and district attorneys’ offices from Fulton and Montgomery counties.
"It's growing," said Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino. "We’ve incorporated emergency services, fire, EMS. It's grown from six boats and 18 people to where we are. In the beginning we missed the link, and it's our fault, because when we started just as a lake training with police, but if we have a call, emergency services is there with their portable headquarters."
Exercises utilized boats, GPS, jet skis and other training tools to practice various skills which may be needed in an emergency.
"The lake responses are typically a major response, they are multi-jurisdictional," said Steven Santa Maria, director of Emergency Management for Fulton County. "Saratoga County and Fulton County often are working together on Great Sacandaga Lake. They are also multi-discipline, meaning we have fire, EMS, law enforcement all working in conjunction with each other to get the task accomplished."
Memorial Day weekend is a "huge" weekend for tourism in Fulton County, Santa Maria said. The area sees an increase in its population in the summer months, and it is important to be prepared, he said.
"It's all the agencies coming together and working together and really making this a successful event for the individuals who are participating," Santa Maria said. "But, more importantly, preparing those individuals to be able to make a rescue or provide the services that are needed during this busy upcoming boating season."
The area sees "too many" incidents around the water each year, and has had two already this season, which really has not started yet, Santa Maria said.
The trainings have also gone a long way in building relationships between the different agencies, Santa Maria said.
"This training has accomplished a very big goal, of bringing all the agencies together," Santa Maria said. "On those blue sky days, when we can start doing our planning, and we see what resources all the agencies all have together. Why is that so important? Because, when we all come together for an incident, everybody knows everybody, everybody knows what resources are available."
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