A young woman in an orange waterproof suit bobbed in Lake Lefferts, only a few feet away from the public dock. Two firefighters approached her in Marine-29-1, the Matawan Borough Fire Departments designated water rescue boat.
Cautiously, they positioned the boat alongside the woman, a FEMA Corps member pretending to be a drowning victim, and used a net to hoist her safely into the boat.
The exercise was part of Matawan's water rescue training program for FEMA Corps, explained Office of Emergency Management Coordinator Sgt. Thomas Falco.
FEMA Corps is a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Corporation for National Community Service that dedicates 1,600 service corps members from AmeriCorps to disaster preparedness, response and recovery, according to the Corporation for National Community Service.
Members serve full-time for at least ten months, but have the option to serve a second year. They must be between 18 and 24 years old.
Matawan was contacted by Reginald Thomas of FEMA after the agency worked on projects in the borough during Irene and Sandy, Falco explained. Thomas is involved in providing training to the volunteers.
Rich Michtisch, firefighter and Office of Emergency Management Deputy Coordinator, led the water rescue orientation and demonstration along with the Matawan Office of Emergency Management, Matawan Fire Department and the Matawan Police Department's Advanced Services Unit.
"I was happy to see FEMA choose Matawan," Faclo said, adding that it shows how much effort they have put into their water rescue program.
Read more about water rescues in Matawan.