Shanghai marine police practice their river rescue skills yesterday, pulling a colleague out of the Huangpu River, where 147 people have been rescued in the past five years.(Jiang Xiaowei)
Shanghai's riverfront is increasingly being turned into a public recreational ground — and yesterday marine police held a drill on how to save people who had fallen into Huangpu River.
Police said the drill was held to enhance their life-saving skills as the riverfront becomes an ever more popular destination.
At the drill, held near the Expo site and Lupu Bridge, two police officers role-played people who had fallen into the river and four of their colleagues, donned in diving suits, jumped into the water to save them.
Marine police are equipped with bulletproof clothing, hand-held underwater propellers, underwater life-detecting robots and inflatable life rafts.
Shu Jiayi, a Shanghai marine police officer who took part in the drill as a life saver, said he and his colleagues constantly undergo training in swimming and life-saving skills and take part in drills in all weathers.
"Waves are very tall today so that it's more difficult for us to approach the target, and also the cold water is quite challenging," he said after emerging from the river.
So far this year, Shu and his colleagues have pulled over 30 people from the river. Most of the rescues took place near the Bund where the marine police have a patrol boat on duty day and night.
"We have to be prepared for saving a life within one minute and reach the target and lift him out of water within four minutes, because otherwise the drowning person could suffer greater health consequences from suffocating in water."
Shu added the police are braced to deploy more officers to increasingly more popular riverfront areas, such as the newly opened area in Xuhui.
Shanghai marine police, who cover 23 kilometers of the Huangpu River, said they have saved 147 people from the river in the past five years and dealt with over 600 emergencies.
The police urge people to report to them when seeing someone in the river, but they don't encourage the public to try to save the person themselves.
"The natural water body is very much different from a swimming pool, and thus could be very challenging to people without competent physical preparedness," Shu explained.
In one case, police had to rescue both someone who had fallen into the water along with a passer-by who was trying to help, he said.