Firefighter Practice Swift Water Rescue

By: Karen Todd
By: Karen Todd

Some local firemen certainly found a way to keep cool Wednesday.

As part of a national search and rescue conference at John Ascuaga's Nugget this week, the Reno Fire Department's Search and Rescue team demonstrated what they do Wednesday.

The team put on a series of swift water drills in the Truckee river.

After a quick briefing, the Swift Water Rescue team is in the water. One of the first ways the team tries to get a victim out of the water is using a throw bag.

"If they're able to grab a throw bag we can swing them to shore," said team member Bill Erlach.

But, Erlach says that method isn't always feasible. "Unfortunately, right now, the river's up and it's colder, and if someone's been in the water for a while they usually get the deer in the headlights and are more reluctant to grab onto that," he said

Plus, right now, firefighters say the river is likely at it's peak flows. It's running at between 900 and 1,100 cubic feet per second. "This is probably one of the most dangerous levels it's going to be," said team member Mitch Glazner.

So the team has other methods of rescue as well, using devices like kayaks and larger boats. These are ways to help keep rescuers safe as well. "The most dangerous is where we put a swimmer in the water to rescue the victims themselves," said one team member.

That is of course a last resort - a method of rescue that the Swift Water Rescue team says is only used when nothing else will work.

But, they say the best thing to do is simply play smart.

Darrell Ward\RFD - Swift Water Rescue Team]
"Always have somebody with you - take it easy on the alcolhol," said Darrell Ward. "That's typically the most common situation with every rescue."

The Swift Water Rescue team expects to go out on calls on the Truckee about 30 times this summer.


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