Rogersville firefighters return from water rescue training in Oklahoma City

Published: Aug. 23, 2019 at 8:51 PM CDT
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Local firefighters are better prepared for a water rescue emergency. Four Logan-Rogersville firefighters returned from a three-day training exercise Friday.

Chief Rich Stirts said water rescues can be stressful.

"Probably one of the most dangerous jobs we do in the fire service is swift water rescues and so you can never get enough training," Stirts said.

The four firefighters trained at a white water rafting park in Oklahoma City. Stirts said the training simulates, what he calls, the high hazard environment of rushing water.

"Typically it's dark, there's a thunderstorm or something happening. So it's not like you can just open up a playbook and start doing it," he said.

Stirts said the team does about 12 water rescues per year. Susan Velier operates fire trucks and boats for the department. She said the most common need for water rescues is for vehicles that are swept off the roadway.

"When there's a little bit of water, or a lot of water, just not turning around," Velier said.

The four members in Oklahoma City are the officers and leaders of the team. They'll be in charge of every rescue, and for training the other members of the team, like Susan.

"The more training they can get, the better off the call will go," Velier said.

Stirts said the training isn't just for the firefighters to learn how to save those in distress, but to protect themselves as well.

"It is a difficult situation and you absolutely have to know how to save your own life before you can save someone else's," Stirts said.

Velier said water is powerful and unpredictable.

"If the water's moving fast, it might take a while for someone to find us and stuff like that, or getting caught in something and pulled underwater, so we try to be really careful," she said.

Stirts said his team will be ready, but he wants drivers to be aware.

"Turn around, don't drown, and then none of us have to put our lives in danger," he said.

Stirts hopes other Ozarks water rescue teams will be able to attend the same training in the future.

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