GLEN, N.Y. (NEWS10) — If you witnessed a large police presence on parts of the Mohawk River in Montgomery County Thursday: it was just a drill.

As the old saying goes (with certain skills): if you don’t use it, you lose it. That’s why several law enforcement agencies from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police were on the Mohawk River in Montgomery County to sharpen their skills when it comes to water emergencies.

From dive teams to boats on patrol, getting to know how to address situations both on water and below it was one of the main goals of Thursday’s multi-agency training. “It’s all about us practicing, getting to know each other’s equipment, staff, our radio communications so God forbid we need it down here in an emergency, we have an understanding,” says Montgomery County Sheriff Jeff Smith.

For an agency like Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the Mohawk River is their biggest concern when it comes to water emergencies. But, for other agencies like Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, lakes are where they focus much of their attention.

Most of the time, water training happens on those lakes but Sheriff Smith says rivers like the Mohawk are a different element and require different training. “Everybody is getting the experience of going through a lock, experiencing the current on the river.,” the sheriff explains. “We have Saratoga County’s Dive Team here that’s going to get in the water. We also have Fulton County here with their sonar equipment to see how that works on the river compared to a lake.” 

While this was the first river training the sheriff’s office has done with other agencies, it will not be the last per the sheriff. The plan is to come back next year for more “scenario based” training. “We’ll probably do a couple of things. We’d put a boat that’s out of operation and needs to be rescued. We may put a missing person out there and then unfortunately a drowning type situation where the dive team had to search for something and hopefully have a successful recovery,” Smith says. “That entire to process from beginning to end is very important to train on.” 

Sheriff Smith says his office only handles a dozen or so water emergencies a year as much of the boating season on the Mohawk River happens while the locks are open between May and October. Regardless of the number of calls, the number one thing is to make sure all crews from all different agencies know how to navigate a water emergency.