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New water rescue equipment saves a life in Buffalo

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Chris Caya WBFO/AM 970
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A Buffalo Police Officer demonstrates a new LifeSling flotation device being deployed in the Police Department's fleet of cars.

New water rescue equipment being deployed by the Buffalo Police helped save a life just hours after they hit the street.

The city began outfitting every police car in its fleet with a flotation device on Wednesday afternoon.  By early Thursday morning, the new equipment called a Life Sling was put to use by officers responding to a call about a man in the water at the foot of West Ferry Street.

"It is ironic that it happened that quickly.  But the Buffalo Police Department was prepared...and in this particular case...this new initiative...helped save a life," said Mayor Byron Brown.

Mayor said with more people enjoying the growing waterfront the city is always looking for ways to improve safety. 

Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda says officers are being directed to watch a two-minute training video on using the flotation device, which is attached to a hundred foot rope.  Derenda says the units cost about $50.00 each.    

"What we also did, in each patrol car, place a vest.  Part of the procedure is the officer will put on the life vest first, before deploying the Life Sling and that's because if he does get pulled in the water, we don't want one tragedy to compound another," said Derenda.

Derenda said a series of drowning last year led to the initiative, which he says is being paid for with cash seized from drug dealers.