A day spent at the beach or the bay usually ends for thousands with nothing worse than a sunburn or chapped lips. But it's the constant potential for a far worse outcome that can keep Nassau and Suffolk first responders on edge when the weather gets warm.
On Wednesday, rescue teams from both counties gathered at Nassau's Tobay Beach — sunsplashed but mostly empty of the crowds soon to come — to demonstrate and practice using inflatable flotation devices to rescue distressed swimmers and anyone else who finds themselves bobbing in Long Island waters without a life preserver or much hope for surviving.
The orange devices, known as "rescue sticks" and made of plastic, are about the size of a standard folded umbrella. Similar to the portable ramps used to evacuate passengers from an airplane, the rescue sticks fill with with air in seconds after they hit the water.
Lt. Adam Fischer, of the Nassau police aviation unit, oversaw the training, which included a total of 30 officers from both counties. The goal, Fischer said, was to ensure a cohesive working relationship between Nassau and Suffolk rescue units.