Saturday, 26 Sep 2020

Lethbridge water rescue team brushing up on skills

Fast moving water, debris and unpredictable conditions are just some of the elements testing some of the Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Service members.

“We’ve got a weir deck, we’ve got a Zodiac and we’ve got a river boat,” said Brendon Pyne with the water rescue team.

“We are learning how they operate in the water and we are learning emergency procedures, how to get in and out of certain situations.”

All water rescue team members are taking the training course, giving them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with two new boats added to the fleet and to survey the river.

Jaydon McCarthy said the heart pumping training might look like fun, but it’s teaching new team members important skills.

“We have to be able to maneuver that boat fast.”

Pyne said river training can be complex and rapidly changing. Spring runoff and regular rain mean the river level is high and moving fast.

“Now we’ve got the luxury of doing our training while the river is high, but we will have to come back out later on in the year when the river is lower because it presents different hazards as the water drops down,” he said.

For those planning to venture onto the river this summer, the water rescue team asks that you plan ahead, wear proper clothing and footwear, don’t consume alcohol, make sure someone knows where you are and most importantly, wear a life-jacket.

“Make sure you have a PFD (personal floatation device), that is very important,” Pyne said. “If you cant swim, have a PFD.”

He said if you are not a strong swimmer, don’t take your life-jacket off for any reason at anytime — it’s a common error that can cost someone their life.


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