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Mason City Fire Department trains in water rescues at Big Blue

Once a year, the fire department takes a refresher course on water rescue. It's a skill they need, but hope they never have to use.

Posted: Jul 20, 2020 11:01 PM
Updated: Jul 22, 2020 6:35 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - Firefighters have to be ready to answer the call for help, even if it takes place out on the water.  Which is why Mason City Fire Department was out at Big Blue this afternoon practicing water rescues.

"We are warm blooded, terrestrial mammals. We're not designed to be in there. we have to make adaptations. Be it a boat, be it learning to swim, a life jacket," said instructor Gary Owen.

When the worst happens out on the water, Mason City's fire department will be ready, thanks to expert training from Owen.  He works for Professional Rescue Innovations, a company who trains firefighters across Iowa in complicated rescues.

One of the most important skills they were practicing, is how to manueuver small watercraft precisely.  

"You need the ability to focus on where you're going and where you're trying to go and not have to look back and actually see what your motor's doing. You know what it's going to do, you know when you pull it this direction, what's going to take place," said Owen.

Once the boat is in the right spot, firefighters have to carefully pull the victim from the water, which is no easy task.  Assistant Deputy Chief Randy Elsbernd calls the training opportunity important.

"Whatever we can do to the best of our ability to give best patient care and preserve property, that's what we want to train for. That's what we love in our jobs and that's what we like to do for the public," he said.

It is training they hope they never have to use.  Elsbernd says teaching your kids to be water wise is always a smart idea.

"Make sure they know the distance they can go out without getting in too deep of water. If they go out deeper, somebody should be with them, they never should be by themselves."

Two more batallions will be undergoing the water rescue training on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Each class lasts about 8 hours, with four hours of classroom training, and the rest of the day spent on the water.

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