By Angela Musallam

FOLSOM (CBS13) — As the temperature keeps on climbing, more people are looking to lakes and rivers for some relief.
Those waters are deceiving, though.

The California Highway Patrol’s Air Operations Unit trained at Folsom Lake on Wednesday to prepare for water rescues this summer. It’s the second year the CHP has also trained lifeguards at the lake, ahead of what they expect to be a busy summer season.

“We have our paddle boards, we have our jet skis, we have our vessels on the water,” said Erin Whitehead, a lifeguard at Folsom Lake.

It’s her first time training with the CHP, to learn how to save lives from the air.

“For us to be able to help them in a way that we can save that person, it’s an honor,” said Whitehead.

“With this training, we can land anywhere on this lake to pick them up and get them to the victim,” said CHP Officer David White.

Lifeguards learned how to rescue victims using three different methods.

“The water is very cold, very fast and you don’t know what’s under that water right now,” said White.

He expects this summer to be a challenge, with more water rescues than usual.

“With the debris, the fast swift water, somebody goes in and they could be hundreds of yards down before we locate them, if we locate them,” White added.

He says that’s because of all the run-off coming from the Sierra, and it’s not going to ease up soon. Speed is the name of this game for first responders, if they’re not outrun by this year’s fast-moving waters.

“It’s just precious time, those seconds matter so the quicker we can get out there the quicker we can save a life,” said Jeremy Ferguson, another lifeguard who attended the training.

Since March, there have been two water rescues and four drownings in the greater Sacramento Area.

The Air Operations Unit covers 13 counties from Northern California all the way over to the Nevada state line.


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