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CHP Helicopter Crews Team Up with Lifeguards to Train for Water Rescues

FOLSOM LAKE -- Crews were out at Folsom Lake for an annual training that provides an extra life-saving tool. It trains CHP helicopter pilots to pick up lifeguards and drop them into the water so the lifeguard can help get victims out of the water and airlifted to safety.

Fresh off that rescue training with CHP's air patrol lifeguard Daniel Nourot's first reaction -- "that was a lot of fun."

But going into his second season doing aerial water rescue training for California State Parks, he recognizes that he's prepping for a life or death situation.

"If this were to actually happen, it's a different story," he said.

CHP may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of water rescue, but as these lifeguards learned Wednesday, approaching a rescue from above may be their best option for saving a life.

"If there's a rescue out in the middle of nowhere, having a helicopter, we can bring it out there and have rescues everywhere," Lifeguard Diego Velasquez said.

"Hopefully we don't have to do a rescue, but if we do have to do one, we'll be ready," said Dave White with CHP Air Patrol.

First responders have their work cut out for them heading into Memorial Day weekend. Part of the day's training includes managing high waters, low temperatures, strong currents, and the wake from the helicopters, all while dodging piles of debris in and around Folsom Lake. Tricky for life guards and potentially life threatening for everyone else.

"It could be a deadly weekend unless people really pay attention to that water," White said.