Teams Prepare For Swift Water Rescues Even With Low River Flows

Apr 20, 2021, 6:16 PM | Updated: 10:02 pm

OGDEN, Utah – Firefighters in Weber County have started to prepare for swift water rescues that they will have to take on in the coming months.

Even with relatively low river flows this year, team members said there are still potentially dangerous conditions.

Firefighters said potential dangers linger in areas that may look calm and inviting but are completely different just downstream.

“Just remember those river banks are super treacherous. Navigate at a pace that you’re not going to twist your ankle and fall in,” said Riverdale captain Matt Henessy.

Even experienced firefighters were warned at Tuesday’s annual training event. Over the next three days, every department in Weber County will take part.

“You look at something like this, and this is a slow-moving water, but as you get in some of the areas where it’s a little deeper and a little more turbulent, the power of that hydraulics will just move you around whether you like it or not,” Henessy added.

He said all departments need to be ready to work together. “We all come there, we all operate the same way.” The training helps coordination between responding multiple agencies. They will all know how to proceed and respond quicker.

“Every year we get calls to the river. Doesn’t matter if it’s a lot of runoff or not very much. People get stuck, they get stranded, and it’s unpredictable,” said Captain Chris Wetton from the Weber Fire District.

They practiced combing the riverbanks, throwing ropes, and pulling victims out to safety. No matter how much they prepared, the actual rescues often prove to be unpredictable.

Henessy said, “Every class, every situation, there’s always something that comes up.”

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Teams Prepare For Swift Water Rescues Even With Low River Flows