Police in Worcester, Massachusetts, are undergoing a new water safety training program in memory of Officer Manny Familia, who drowned last year while trying to save a teenager.
Officers recently trained in a YMCA pool with yellow floatation devices referred to as “Manny Tubes,” which will now be stocked in every police cruiser to be used during a potential water rescue. Life vests and a rope will also be included in the water safety kit to help pull drowning victims to shore.
“Any piece of equipment I’m using and putting in the cruiser, I know it has the potential and probably will save multiple lives, which makes us feel pretty good,” Worcester Police Lieutenant John Bossolt said.
Bossolt assured officers that the Manny Tube will keep them and those they are rescuing above the surface.
“Look, you can put two to three people on here. You can do that. So, be confident you aren’t going to be under with that,” he added.
Officer Manny Familia died on June 4, 2021, while attempting to save a drowning teenager in a pond in Green Hill Park. The new equipment was developed by the Manny 267 Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Familia’s family, to ensure that both officers making water rescues and those they are saving can make it out alive.
Officer Terrence Cahill said the equipment will come in handy during the summer months when they inevitably get calls about people drowning.
“It seems like every year as soon as the weather starts to get nice, we get calls like this. So to have this equipment is great,” Cahill told WCVB.
All 400 of Worcester’s officers participated in the training, including Officer Alex Maracallo — Familia’s cousin.
“When a call like this comes in, we are always the first ones on scene. You don’t want to seem helpless. This is a better tool to assure first responders when they get on scene,” Maracallo said of the equipment.
Bossolt explained that the training will help officers prepare for a situation they may be unfamiliar with.
“We are used to dealing with criminals and running after criminals with guns and knives that could kill us or harm us. But the hidden danger is the water and other things we don’t deal with every day.”