Subject 32's Experience

Sgt. Dave M. – OPP Marine Unit

Dave grew up as a cottager in the Muskoka’s. He became a marine officer with the OPP Marine Unit in 2000 and would spend the whole boating season working on Muskoka Lakes. Around 4 years ago, he moved from working on the lakes to training OPP officers. He has over 40 years of boating experience, both personally and professionally.

Watch Sgt. Dave M. go through the experiences below.

Stand-Up Paddleboard
Fishing Boat
Cold Water Tank
Warm Water Tank

When he was younger, as a cottager, he never wore a lifejacket. They were always on the boat and accessible under the seats or in the bow. He does have vague memories of slipping and falling unexpectedly off the docks and out of boats when he was younger, and that it was a very shocking experience. It wasn’t until he became a police officer that he started to respect the water and started to learn that the water could take your life away in a matter of minutes, so he has worn a lifejacket ever since.

It was not an easy sell with his family to get them on board to wear lifejackets, but as they got older, he would talk with them about his experiences from his work, call outs or investigations and they started to respect the water in a similar manner that he does. It is now a no brainer that whenever they go out on a vessel everyone wears a lifejacket and he doesn’t have to ask. “It’s fantastic, they are fully committed to wearing lifejackets” Dave says.

"And when I hit that water, I was 100% shocked on the temperature"

Dave found the Virtual Reality (VR) experiences presented realistic scenarios for both the Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) and fishing simulations and thought that if you added in real life external factors like waves, other boats, etc., and the instability that you can be put in, especially when you are focusing on landing a fish, that the unexpected falls off the boat and SUP were very realistic. And because he wasn’t expecting the drops to happen at the times that they did – he was shocked.

Although he had previously done training in cold water, he was still shocked and surprised when he fell in as he wasn’t expecting the water to feel as cold as it was, especially after coming from the warmer water. As he hit the water, he found he was trying to process the difference between the two pools and all he wanted to do was get out of the cold water. He felt his heart rate increase and his breathing change and become more challenging. He stated, “For someone who has never been through this before, I think the panic factor would set in instantly."

“For someone who has never been through this before, I think the panic factor would set in instantly."

As the dunk tank experiences were from an involuntary act of entering the water he stated, “In all the training we as police officers do, we are anticipating colder water and are dressed for it with all our gear and safety equipment” and “when I hit that water, I was 100% shocked on the temperature.”

“Your mind goes into survival mode with that initial ‘fall’ in both the VR and the dunk tank experiences. You start thinking about ‘what are my next steps?’ – ‘Can I reach for the board?’ and ‘How cold is the water?’.” Even though he was in a controlled environment and would survive, these were his first initial thoughts until he felt the harness grab in the VR experiences and before he stood up in the water tanks.

Dave stated that going through the four experiences only reinforced his commitment to always wear a lifejacket.