W. MI dive teams train in Battle Creek

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Dive teams from across West Michigan were in Battle Creek for a major training exercise.

The teams were stationed at six different spots along the Kalamazoo River Thursday.

Divers had to recover fake guns, submerged dummies and other debris.

Allegan County Sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Wagner said high water levels across the state make this type of training even more crucial because of faster currents.

The team was upstream and had to add additional weight to prevent drifting.

“Just with the normal gear and weight, we’re looking at an extra 100, 110 pounds. We throw another 50 on that,” Wagner said. “That’s something else you’re carrying and having to deal with.”

The mission was to recover items from a fictitious terrorist plot on a federal building in Battle Creek, where a truck went into the river spilling everything inside. 

“I was able to locate what would be considered a weapon. When we do that, we mark that location with GPS. We take measurements from the shore,” Wagner said.

Branch County Sheriff’s deputy Frank Parker said the area they searched did not have as strong of a current but was a wider section of the river to search. They recovered several large items like a tank meant to simulate finding a bomb, he said.

“They do have the Battle Creek Bomb Squad down here, so if we find something like that, we can work on that procedure as well,” Parker said.

Van Buren County authorities experienced a fast-moving current, making it difficult to remove a dummy from below the surface of the water.

Sgt. Nathan Penning hopes this experience helps them improve for when they respond to a real emergency.

“They listen, they take it and they come back again the following year — just making it better for everybody,” Penning said.

Organizers plan to have another training in a different county next year.

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