Fire Department Prepares for Busy Water Rescue Season

The Columbia Fire Department began a three-day Swiftwater Rescue Re-certification on Monday as a way to prepare for the upcoming busy season on the water.

The three-day course features scenarios such as directing a stalled boat through the rapids, rescuing someone stuck on a rock, and helping an overturned kayak pinned to a rock.

"Once our rescuers get into the river, they're basically at the mercy of the river and they can try and control where they go but it's a very dynamic situation," said CFD Special Operations Chief Jason Krusen. "Because of that, we like to make sure that all of our rescuers are properly trained and feel comfortable when they get into that situation."

Though it isn't mandated annually, the department completes the training yearly to make sure they're keeping up with the newest techniques which ensures the safety of both parties involved.

"A big part of this training is protecting us from anything from skills, to all of the equipment that we wear. If you notice, all of the guys that are out here today are wearing a personal flotation device," said CFD Engineer Mike Denicola. "The biggest piece of safety equipment that anybody can have. We don't go near the water without it, and neither should the general public."

Each of the scenarios practiced require quick action, but the rescue has to be methodical -- making it a tough balance.

"Once they take action and they're in the water, they have to have all of those underlying tertiary plans ready to go because plan A may not work as soon as they get in the water and they realize plan B is now my route or plan C," said Chief Krusen.

Once the training is completed on Wednesday, the group says they'll be able to handle whatever situation floats their way, but ask the public to listen to the warning signs to cut down on any possible accidents.


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