July 26, 2013 - 8:30 AM
PENTICTON - Penticton Fire and Rescue used to do fast-moving water rescues the hard way by improvising and using what tools they had.
Captain Denis Noble said it was messy before but now the department has new $800 dry-suits and are receiving swiftwater rescue training from David Scott of Rescue Canada.
Scott had several firefighters suit up behind the Loco Landing Adventure Park on Thursday and get into the rushing white water at the mouth of the Okanagan River. Water from Okanagan Lake was pouring through the dam and flying into the river system.
Scott showed the others how to swim in the 16-pound suits perpendicular to the current and even against it to maintain position. Noble said when trying to reach someone in the water it was better to start swimming further upstream and swim with the current at an angle.
Noble said due to the roar of the water the instructor used hand signals to communicate. And rescuers had to guage how much energy they spend before reaching the victim. They cannot exhaust themselves before they land on the victim.
Noble said every firefighter will receive this training and once this is complete, two will be selected for advanced swift-water rescue training.
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Two Penticton firefighters practice swiftwater rescue training on Thursday at the mouth of the Okanagan River channel.
(SHANNON QUESNEL /InfoTel Multimedia)
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