Wet Winter Has Crews Looking At Busy Summer Of Swift Water Rescues

CLEMENTS (CBS13) — The heavy rain we received over the last several months is expected to impact many communities with high levels of water flowing through creeks and rivers.

Local fire firefighters are beefing up their training to better prepare for any water hazardous and emergencies this summer.

Area firefighters are taking part in an intensive training down the Mokelumne River. The exercise is helping crews develop the skills to help save lives near moving water.

“When you have high water, moving water and with all the snags we have in the river, we need our firefighters to be prepared,” said Capt. Ron Firman with the Mokelumne Fire District.

Fire department training happens throughout the year, but swift water rescue exercises have been taking place more frequently because of recent rain and now the Sierra snow is melting.

“Obviously, with all the water that we’ve had this year, the snowpack at 180 percent, the river is full, it’s been flowing very full, yeah it’s a major concern,” said Chief Dave Ingrum, Clements Fire Department.

Firefighters simulate a rescue down the river using different rope techniques. They learn how to communicate and problem solve with limited gear and resources.

“Getting in the water, we have to stay current with that, just with the water moving fast and swift like it is, it’s really deceptive, it looks slow, but it’s really moving quick,” said Joe Waid, an engineer with the Clements Fire Department.

Firefighters say the current down the river is about 4,000 cubic feet per second and with downed trees already in the water, it makes for a dangerous situation and the training, crucial.

“It’s really important to keep current with training and make sure we give the public the best that we can,” said Waid.

Firefighters in the Clements fire district say they have been busy recently providing a handful of swift water rescues in the area.

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