Tulsa Fire Department Recruits Learn Basics Of Swift Water Rescue

Friday, September 18th 2015, 6:36 pm
By: News On 6

To get a feel for saving people during flash flooding, a class of Tulsa Fire Department recruits trained in the current of the Illinois River Friday. It’s just one of the many drills fire cadets have to get through.

The Tulsa Fire Department turned the river into a training ground as 35 of its newest recruits learned the basics for swift water rescue training, because when someone calls 911, they have to be ready to respond to everything.

When someone needs help on the Arkansas River, Tulsa's fire department is the first to respond, swapping out their boots for life jackets.

All that swift water training starts in the academy, on the Illinois River, where the department's recruits learn how to make those rescues.

Captain RB Ellis said, “The main focus in this class is for them to be able to survive this swift water environment should they find themselves in that environment. The rescue is a bonus, but our safety is number one,"

Ellis works with the cadets to make sure they know how to read and handle fast moving currents.

Friday, the recruits played both victims and firefighters.

"This is the number one water rescue technique; it's going to be throwbacks. So that's a 75-foot rope reaching the target. Once they make the catch then we get into a belay position and just kind of let the current--let the water just work," Ellis said.

Recruit Garnett Burkhalter went down the river and performed several rescues.

“It’s been a learning experience. It's been fun to be able to bond with 34 of my classmates, and I've been enjoying every moment of it," he said.

When the recruits become firefighters, they'll know the ins-and-outs of the swift water rescue equipment stored in the back of their engine.

Burkhalter said, "Our job...regardless of what it may be, regardless of how major or how minor it may be,"

The next big training exercise for the recruits is going to be live fire training in about a week.

They expect to graduate in January.