Four area agencies teamed up last weekend to train at the Shinnecock Coast Guard Station for an underwater search and rescue emergency simulation.
During the 32-hour course, given by Lifeguard Systems, members of the Hampton Bays Fire Department Dive Team, North Sea Fire Department Dive Team, Southampton Town Police Dive Team and the Hampton Bays Ambulance Corps, learned skills that would allow them to expedite a rescue when a car goes underwater.
Some 50 emergency responders participated in the course; for some it was a refresher course and for others it was an opportunity to learn new skills.
"It is important to have responders properly trained to expedite a rescue," said Rick Nydegger, of the Hampton Bays Fire Department Dive Team. "We are indebted to the Coast Guard for allowing us to use their facility for this training."
In the past two years, divers from local agencies have responded to multiple incidents in which cars have entered the water:
In January, Simon R. Flaherty, 80, of Hampton Bays, died after he drove his 2001 Lincoln sedan into the Shinnecock Canal.
into the icy waters of Three Mile Harbor in Springs.
In May, the brakes on a Ford pickup failed when the truck attempted to stop at the intersection of Lynn Avenue and Argonne Road East, leading to the truck plunging into the Shinnecock Bay. No one was injured.
In November 2011 a A 2011 Mercedes Benz was pulled from the Shinnecock Bay after the car's owner said the car's braking mechanism failed. No one was injured.
In March 2011, a police chase that started in Westhampton ended when both a 36-year-old Brookhaven man, driving a stolen car, and a Southampton Town police officer chasing him crashed into Moriches Bay. Both the officer and man had to climb on top of their roofs to get out of the frigid water until the Eastport Fire Department could rescue them.