Icy Training Day for MSP, DNR

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The weather was finally warmer. The water below the ice in Davis Pond, however, was just as cold.

But there were the newest recruits from the Michigan State Police and the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, jumping into frigid waters.

"You go in, you gasp for air, you calm yourself, reduce your breathing so you're not hyperventilating and keep your senses about you and get to the other edge," said Tyler Groskopf, one of MSP's recruits. "I'm proud of myself for getting through it and it was definitely a good learning experience."

Learning was the objective Friday, as more than 100 recruits rotated through two stations: one in which they saved someone who had fallen through the ice and another in which they saved themselves.

"They're being given a chance to be exposed to the cold water in the event themselves find themselves falling through the ice," said MSP Sgt. David Winter. "And in Michigan that's a possibility where they're responding to an incident where they have to cross ice or something of that nature."

First, recruits practiced throwing a rescue disc to a "victim" who had fallen through the ice roughly 75 feet away. Instructors barked instructions and corrections as recruits tried to pull the victim to safety.

"The academy setting is to get them to have confidence in their training," said Cpl. Dan Bigger of the DNR's law enforcement division. "Once they have that training, we're making sure that they're applying that training to this task and if they're not we're trying to guide them through it."

What followed was perhaps the more daunting challenge: jumping into a hole in the ice and swimming a few meters before pulling themselves to shore.

"It's not something that's in human nature to want to step into that ice, to go under that water, so it takes a lot for them to get past that and to just do it," Winter said. "They will come face to face with a lot of things that aren't comfortable or easy but they'll be expected to continue through and fight through whatever is presented."

From there, recruits had to use magazines of ammunition from their belts to pull themselves out of the water.

"I think it's an absolute necessity that we do something like this," said Groskopf. "You wouldn't want your first time jumping in or falling in to be the first time you've been exposed to cold water like this."

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