Ada County Sheriff's deputies braved the frigid waters of the Boise River today in an exercise to help law enforcement officers make smart decisions when they have to battle the elements while rescuing boaters or rafters. Bystanders shuddered while the 50-degree water rushed over willing participants. Deputies had to jump in, go completely submerged, and then bring their heads above water for two and a half minutes. After that, they had to secure a life vest on themselves and remain in the water.
Sgt. John Harris of the Ada County Sheriff’s Office volunteered first to take the plunge.
“Boy is that cold,” was all he could say while trying to catch his breath. Harris said his hands and arms instantly began tingling, and it took him 30 seconds before getting his breathing under control.
“I felt like I was hyperventilating,” Harris said, still dripping wet on the river bank.
Ada Sheriff’s Lt. Scott Johnson said it’s important that officers get their brains and thought processes under control in these situations. Many people think hypothermia is the biggest risk in cold water, but more people die from drowning after the bitter temperatures send them into shock, he added.