The Massachusetts State Police, Lowell Police, the Lowell YMCA staff this week held a water safety and basic swimming course for children at the Lowell Y.
The “Water Safety - Introduction to Swimming" course, held for two groups of elementary-aged youths on Aug. 22 and 23, reflected the commitment of both police agencies to protect young people in and around bodies of water.
Several dozen participants received water safety instruction from Troopers from the MSP’s Dive Team. The MSP Drone Unit, which performs numerous search and rescue missions, discussed safety tips with the children, and members of the Lowell Police and MSP K9 Units also spoke to the children about how police are partners with their communities.
“The loss of any life is always a terrible and tragic occurrence,” said Colonel John Mawn Jr., superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “The death of a child, in particular, affects all of us in a very visceral and very personal way. We in this Department have seen — so many times, too many times— the great human tragedy that is involved in the death of a child. Oftentimes, when the cause of these heartbreaking deaths has been accidental and perhaps preventable, the tragedy is compounded. Drowning is one such example. We respond to these incidents after the fact — we search for victims on and under the water and by air, and along the banks of rivers and streams, on lakes, ponds, and beaches. We send detectives and crime scene personnel to investigate the circumstances of the death. That is our job.
“As public safety professionals and community caretakers, we endeavor to proactively prevent these fatal incidents. As a result, we partner to promote water safety and swimming tips, to prepare children in the hope that we can prevent future tragedies. That is why we started this program, and I am grateful to our Dive Team, Community Liaison Team, and Employee Assistance Unit, and to our local partners like the Lowell Police and Lowell YMCA, for making this idea a reality. We look forward to contributing to this program in the months and years to come to bring this important information to more and more children. “
Lowell Police Superintendent Greg Hudon stated: “Massachusetts State Police provided invaluable support and resources as we searched for victims in two tragic drownings in the City of Lowell in recent years, and we could not be more grateful that they are now also assisting us with helping Lowell youth learn to be safe around the water. Every bit of water safety education that we can work together to offer could save lives here in Lowell, where two rivers and a network of canals crisscross our city. We are extremely appreciative of the efforts that state police have made in the City of Lowell, and we are proud to partner with them on this proactive, preventive programming.”
The Massachusetts State Police water safety program began several years ago as an initiative of the Department’s Division of Homeland Security. The program seeks to empower children to be safe in and around pools, the ocean, lakes, rivers, and ponds. The program was founded in the wake of multiple child drowning deaths that MSP and its partner agencies investigated. Previous courses were offered in Framingham and New Bedford; future classes are being planned in other areas of the state.