Firefighters dive in for water rescue training

Whether by throwing a rope or by boat, firefighters are getting hands-on training on what to do when rescuing someone while confronting the powerful force of water

Posted: Jul 26, 2019 9:56 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Firefighters - we count on them in emergencies from blazes in our home to medical situations, and their life-saving skills aren't just needed on land.

And the Winnebago River may look calm and peaceful when it's not flooded or moving quickly. But even at normal levels, it can still pose a danger. That's why Mason City Firefighters spent their day training for water rescues at East Park.

They practiced throwing a rope out to someone stranded or floating down a river, as well as how to rescue using a boat and with a high line rope, where the boat is attached to a rope by a pulley.

Manny Randle has been with department since September of last year, and says the danger of drowning can happen in any body of water, shallow or deep.

"There's a lot of obstacles in the river that people just may not see. They may get their foot hooked and pulled under. It can be as simple as that."

Lt. Dustin Pillard has been in rescue for about 25 years. For firefighters who've gone through the training before, it's a good refresher. And for others, it's their first time learning these life-saving skills. Two new firefighters training on Friday have a leg up because of their prior experience.

"Both are avid fishermen. They know the water, they know boats, so they're ahead of the curve on some of this stuff. They don't use the ropes as much, but if we have something more complicated, they're familiar with bodies of water, and they're familiar with boats, so that goes a long way."

He views water rescue as a confrontation with an irresistable force.

"Water is relentless, so it's going to wear somebody out, no matter how prepared they think they're going to be. And that includes us. Time is an issue."

When it comes to a water rescue, Pillard says that developing multiple plan is key.

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