Firefighters Train For Swift Water Rescues
Friday, May 25th 2007, 8:41 AM CDT
Many people may not head for the water until Saturday. The Broken Arrow fire department was out there Friday. But they were there to work, training in swift-water rescue techniques. The News On 6â€™s Steve Berg reports it's something firefighters don't often learn, but something they will very likely use.
If you're a firefighter, water is usually your ally, but not in this case. Firefighters are often called on to perform water rescues, but for several Broken Arrow firefighters, it's their first experience with water rescue training.
"They put a lot of emphasis in the structure fires, auto extrication, different types of rescue techniques, and it seems like water rescue is one that hasn't had the recognition," said firefighter Bill Humphrey.
Humphrey, who's one of only a handful of certified flood rescue instructors in the state, says that's a mistake.
"More people drown every year in water-related incidents as opposed to structure fires by far in our country," Humphrey said.
That includes, surprisingly, many of the rescuers. As lifeguards know, a victim in a panic will often try to drag down their rescuer.
"The main thing we're trying to focus on today and other days is the fact we want to look at self-rescue techniques for these guys," Humphrey.
Besides the proper technique, one of the most important things is having the right gear. For example, life jackets are a must. Other equipment helps as well.
Believe it or not, a standard fire hose, capped off at both ends and filled with air, makes an excellent rescue line. But Humphrey says a firefighter's typical bunker gear, while very buoyant in still water, is no good in a current. He says firefighters have sometimes made the mistake of tying a line to shore and going in with no life jacket.
"It doesn't take much current at all,â€ said Humphrey. â€œWhen you're talking about excessive current, 2 to 4 miles per hour, you get an enormous amount of pressure up on your lower extremities. Even if it's only waist deep, it's enough."
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