If you were driving down Highway 80 Friday just after lunch you might have noticed the young men from the A.L.E.R.T. Academy were diving in Big Sandy Lake, by the dance hall. What did they find? What were they looking to find?

The A.L.E.R.T. Academy has been an incredible resource for law enforcement for many reasons, and the way Michael Gast, President of the National Academy of Police Diving, instructs these young men to dive and to drill in on what it is they are looking for was amazing to watch. Luckily, this was a training exercise, but dangers still exist when diving in a training environment: getting disoriented under water, loosing oxygen, or even worse coming up on a water moccasin or in our area, an alligator.

As I walked up, I heard Sgt. Gilow state the training scenario, “The assailant was driving his car, and he kept throwing items out of the car into the lake, as he was driving over the bridge.”

As the guys began to put on their gear and go into the lake, they tied ropes to a floating buoy, to show where they were diving. Then they made small circles around the buoy, working their way outward, utilizing a PVC pipe grid to search each spot individually by feel.

“It is zero visibility when you get down in the water, so its all by feel.” said Michael Harmon of Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department.

The A.L.E.R.T. Academy has been known to help with recovery, on everything from parts of the NASA Space Shuttle Columbia, to recovering weapons, deceased bodies, drug paraphernalia, and anything that law enforcement needs found, that is regarded as evidence.

“These training exercises are what keep our men ready for deployment to help in any situation,” regarded Michael Gast.

Thank you to all those who keep us safe, and thank you to those who are ready for anything. Supporting our first responders is something Big Sandy will always be about, thanks to SGT Manfred Gilow Big Sandy PD, A.L.E.R.T Officer and Big Sandy Volunteer Fire Department Officer Michael Harmon, and thank you to President Michael Gast, of the National Academy of Police Divers.