‘The lakeside has hazards:’ Firefighters train for bluff rescues in Cudahy

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CUDAHY -- Emergency responders tackled an early morning rescue in Cudahy on Monday, July 29 -- just hours before two fire departments were training for the exact same thing.

Robert Schmidt, Battalion Chief for the Cudahy Fire Department

"We are a lakeside community, and with that community -- the lakeside has hazards," said Robert Schmidt, battalion chief for the Cudahy Fire Department.

The dangers were all too real in Cudahy Monday morning. Officials said a man jumped from the bluff in Warnimont Park in a suicide attempt.

"They found him in the water," Schmidt said. "The water was relatively shallow. It was up to his knees."

The man was rescued alive with minor injuries, thanks, in part, to training exercises.

Bluff rescue training at Warnimont Park, Cudahy

"One of the fortunate things that happened was, he happened to go off in the very area we are training in," Schmidt said.

The Cudahy and South Milwaukee Fire Departments on Monday practiced rescues -- scaling some 200 feet to the water's edge, down rock and unstable terrain.

"This year, the water levels are very high, so there is no beach," Schmidt said.

Bluff rescue training at Warnimont Park, Cudahy

It takes a dozen team members to use a pulley system to hoist a victim to safety.

"We rescue people three, four, or five times a year. We rescue people and animals. People fall down, or they try to climb up and get stuck," Schmidt said.

Bluff rescue training at Warnimont Park, Cudahy

The apparatus makes 300 pounds feel like 100. Crews rotated, trying each phase of the mock rescue. The only difference between practice and the real thing? Monday morning's rescue was done in complete darkness.

Bluff rescue training at Warnimont Park, Cudahy

"The hardest part for us -- all the rescue we have had in the last 12 months -- we first have to find the guy," Schmidt said.

Cudahy officials said they were considering using a drone in the future -- one with night vision -- to help them find people who are missing in the darkness.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office toldĀ  FOX6 News the man who jumped was recovering from his physical injuries and receiving mental health treatment.

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