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Dunkirk water rescue team prepares for summer

DUNKIRK – Members of the Dunkirk Water Rescue Team were preparing the Dunkirk Harbor for summer boating and swimming action Thursday.

The team includes members of the Dunkirk Fire and Police Department. Ten members are prepared to respond to water emergencies from the Coast Guard, sheriff’s patrol boats or private residents who see a person or boat in distress.

Fire Chief Keith Ahlstrom said Thursday’s exercises involved checking the docks and looking for obstacles in the harbor.

Participation in the special response crew is voluntary and each member has scuba and water rescue training. Thursday’s water temperature at Dunkirk was just 57 degrees, so special suits and even gloves were worn by the divers.

Ahlstrom said the harbor area was already busy with several fishermen who were looking for bass in the shallow waters near the shoreline.

Lake water levels have been a concern.

The rescue team was looking for particular obstacles in the path of boaters. Ahlstrom said there were reports of two large trees in the harbor area but his crew could not locate them Thursday.

“The wind was blowing from the right direction and the water level was high,” he said. The Dunkirk harbor waters are highly changeable under wind conditions, Ahlstrom said.

The seasonal preparation is expected to continue next week as divers will look for any large debris that may have drifted into the area, Ahlstrom said.