Firefighters dive into water rescue training
February 6, 2023, 4:15 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts
On the weekend of Jan. 28, 20 firefighters participated in a water rescue course where they learned about rope rescue training, how to use water rescue boats and equipment, along with practicing swimming in the cold winter weather.
“The course teaches you everything from rescuing victims who have drowned and proper patient care,” said Fire Chief Brad Hutton of Redvers Fire Department.
“It teaches you how to rescue a victim who fell through ice, even just water or dugouts. The course teaches you how to treat a victim or patient afterwards as well, because of hypothermia or all other kinds of effects after being frozen in cold water.
“Firefighters had to gear up in water rescue suits and learn how to inflate water rescue boats, as well learn about the proper techniques to go out and perform the rescue. They learned how to do patient care until the ambulance could get them to the hospital too.”
The water rescue course was completed in two days, with the first day consisting of eight hours of theory training, followed by a day of practical training.
The course was taught by Trans-Care Rescue by Bill McCombs, and included firefighters from Redvers, Carnduff and Carievale.
With all of the equipment needed for the course, such as the rescue suits, rescue rafts, helmets, ropes and more, Hutton was asked how the department funded it all.
“We bought the equipment that was used for the course about a few years ago which stemmed from when we had all of the flooding out in our area,” said Hutton.
“We had a couple calls about vehicles that got washed off the road. We didn’t know if people were in them, we didn’t have stuff to get to them legally and safely. That’s what led us to buy the equipment, and then we just budgeted the money, through our town and the RM, that was needed for the training to go with it.”
From seeing a need in the community for training in water rescue safety, Redvers Fire Department felt the course needed to be prioritized for firefighters in the area.
“Since we already had the equipment, I wanted to make sure everyone was trained to know how to use it,” Hutton said.
“I know there was a lot of us who were trained previously. We had new members who joined the fire department over the years and I wanted to make sure everyone had the opportunity to train. I also invited a few surrounding communities as well to fill up spots in the course.”
On the day of the practical training component of the course, firefighters got into their rescue suits and dove in the water at -23 C. Each participant had the chance to practice as the rescuer and as the victim.
“We didn’t really want it to be -23 C,” Hutton said laughing. “But, being in the cold is actually really good for the training course because people got a real feel for what it may be like.
“They might actually have to go out in -20 C or -30 C weather, so they got a feel of the comfort that the suits give you because when you’re in the suit in the water, you’re not cold. It’s only when you get out of the water.
“This was good for training because you could relate it to all kinds of real life situations. It could be as simple as a farmer chopping out a dugout hole for his livestock and there could be a soft spot and perhaps, he falls through. It does happen.”
Hutton spoke about what training courses the firefighters from Redvers and surrounding areas will be taking in the nearby future.
“Some of the next courses we’re targetting are going to be more fire related,” he said.
“We’re going to do a course on rapid intervention team which is basically a rescue team to go rescue firefighters in a burning house or situation.
“That’s one course we want to host. As well, I believe Carnduff will be having a course on HAZMAT awareness so we would want to get training on that too.”
He spoke about why it is important for firefighters to be exposed to a wide range of training courses.
“We train based on what’s in the area,” said Hutton.
“We have lots of truck and trailer hauls, lots of goods coming through the area so I figured training on HAZMAT would be good because we would get the idea of how to approach, and deal with different possible spills or leaks.
“Also, with all of the firefighter standards changing, we’re all being led to a better standard of fire fighting.
Ideally, if all departments can get trained, then we’re all on the same page. It could be awareness for any situation, whether it be spills or anything, it’s for your safety and health as well.”