Police Involved In Water Rescue Risked Lives Despite Not Being Dive Team Members

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DES MOINES, Iowa — In the dark of night with deadly currents rushing over two stranded boaters, Des Moines police bodycam video shows a heroic water rescue monday at the Scott Street River Bridge’s low-head dam.  “When it comes to jumping in the river and facing what they faced, that is just raw courage and full heart,” said Des Moines Police Department Sergeant Paul Parizek.

Liutenant Joe Van Haalan with the Des Moines Fire Department’s wet rescue team has expertise around those low-head dams.  He said, “Those create some huge problems for us.”  He says the location and time of day presented dangers for even the most experienced on these teams.  “It is pretty hard to train for the night stuff.  We try to avoid that because of the level of danger involved with that,” said Van Haalan.  But, the first responders on the scene weren`t experienced dive team members.  They were street cops.  Parizek said, “They were just leaving roll call so that`s how they go there that fast. the police department was right around the corner.  They were right on top of this.”

Critical thinking, teamwork and resourcefulness helped make the rescue possible.  Parizek said, “This is where they got to the moment and had to step up and they did it and they knocked it out of the park.”

The officer with the rope, kept his balance by other officers holding his utility belt.  “Every situation is different so it’s pretty tough to have trained for that exact situation,” Van Haalan said.

The fire department handled the vitals of the victims once on dry land.  “The best police department in the state, nation. We work well together.  Those guys are phenomenal. We’d do anything for them and they`d do anything for us,” said Van Haalan.

Despite not being a part of an actual dive team and in a worst-case scenario environment, these officers had one goal and it was to save lives.  “There`s really no other way to describe it.  They risked their lives to save someone else,” Parizek said.


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