Swift water training begins for Fresno County and City firefighters

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FRESNO, California (KGPE) – The weather is heating up and so is the danger on local waterways.  Today, Fresno County and city firefighters began training to make sure they’re ready to keep the public safe over at Winton Park on Kings River.

“Typically if someone is gonna slip in the water or fall in the water and need rescuing — it’s gonna be in these areas,”  Seth Brown, Public Information Officer, Fresno County Fire Department said.

Ten firefighters are participating in the 40-hour course over a period of five days.  The training not only teaches how to respond to different scenarios, it also has strict safety protocols in place for the first responders taking the course.

“Today, we’re familiarizing the students with the water.  The water levels significantly increased just yesterday.  So, we wanted to get everyone in the water used to it, used to swimming in the fast current and used to the cold water,” said Seth Brown.

Rescue boats and personal floatation devices are in place to keep things safe, along with backup plans to protect both the students and the instructors.  Shane Brown, the public information officer for the Fresno Fire department said, “You know for the average person and that includes firefighters, just jumping in this water is super dangerous.  So, we have a whole curriculum that we follow, teaching how to effect these rescues.”

After finishing the training, the firefighters in training will become certified as River and Flood Rescue technicians.  They know the summer crowds are coming, especially after being stuck at home for months due to COVID-19 concerns.

“It’s time, everybody’s gonna start barbecuing, hanging out on the beach, you know, COVID’s had everybody inside for a long time–we understand that–I mean we all feel the same.” 

The firefighters also recommend having life jackets and helmets on and always talking with the rangers or those running the recreational spots to get educated about the site waters and any dangerous spots.

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