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Tulsa Fire Academy Challenges Cadets With Swift Water Rescue Training

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TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -

Tulsa Fire Department cadets are in their sixth week of training, and the cadets are used to training at the academy, but Wednesday, the Illinois River was their classroom.

"Your face gets submerged, you can't breathe... the water is in your eyes," said Cadet Kendall Williams. 

Wednesday marked the second day of swift water rescue training for the cadets, who have to complete a total of 22 weeks of training.

"You just fight," Williams said. 

Williams, a mother of two, is ready to rise to the challenge 

"The challenge stuff, that's in my blood. I like the pressure of new things and I like things that are gonna try to break me," Williams said. 

Williams is one of more than a dozen cadets training to become a Tulsa firefighter.

Tulsa Fire Captain Terry Sivadon said the two-day water rescue training is considered one of the most enjoyable but challenging training sessions.

"We live in Oklahoma, all the rain we get water comes up fast and goes away fast so we always wanna be ready for any situation," said Sivadon.

Cadets are trained on how and when to use throw bags 

"We always wanna teach them how to rescue someone by not even getting in the water," Sivadon said. 

But sometimes, getting into the water is necessary and cadets are trained in those situations as well as how to get around barriers like logs or trees.

"Just to show them the hydraulics of the river and the force of the water, and to show them to go over the strainer, you never want to go underneath," Sivadon said. 

Each training session is based on a real-life scenario.

"How to enter the water, how to make a rescue and how to work together as a team," he said. 

As challenging as the sessions are, these lessons could be a matter of life and death for someone in the future.  

"I've got two kids at home and I am one of the oldest ones here so being able to prove myself to my team and to the city is a huge thing for me," Williams said. 

The cadets are set to graduate in early fall.

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