WHEELING - Members of the Wheeling Area Underwater Special Tactics Team held their monthly practice session at Wheeling Park's Good Lake on Monday morning in part to serve as a public awareness event.
Dive team commander Phil Redford said not only does practicing at the location provide the team a good opportunity to practice in "still water," it also provides them with an opportunity to educate the public about the hazards of walking across frozen water.
"This is a lake that will frequently freeze over in the wintertime - and with the amount of children and people who come to this park, it is always a fear that someone could fall through the ice. ... So we want to become familiar with this environment in the event we would have someone fall through the ice," Redford said.
Photos by Scott McCloskey
Members of the Wheeling Area Underwater Special Tactics Team hold their monthly diving practice session at Wheeling Park’s Good Lake on Monday morning.
Redford said a Wheeling Park manager informed him there have been numerous occasions in which he had to stop people from walking on the ice. Redford said he is hopeful Monday's training event will serve as a reminder to people about the dangers of walking on such surfaces.
"Anytime you see ice, obviously you shouldn't walk out onto it. Even though this lake isn't that deep - it's probably about 6 feet deep - a small child easily could walk out onto the ice and fall through," he added.
Redford said while the dive team typically trains on the Ohio River - the site of most of their response calls - the team occasionally practices on local area lakes as well.
The Wheeling Area Underwater Special Tactics Team includes members of the Wheeling fire and police departments, the Ohio County Sheriff's Department and the Benwood Volunteer Fire Department.