SBFD Trains for Swift Water Rescue

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Friday November 16, 2012

The South Burlington Fire Department was recently approved by the City Council to send department members to water rescue and ground safety training and to accept reimbursement for these trainings via the Swift Water Rescue Grant part 2 and the Fire Ground Safety and Survival Grant. Both provide pre-approved funds (available from the Dept. of Homeland Security) for fire departments to engage in training and assure taxpayers aren’t on the hook for the associated expenditures. 

Through the Swift Water Rescue Grant, South Burlington was approved to send 24 people to training; 11 SBFD members were available to take part in the four days immediately preceding the warning of Hurricane Sandy’s arrival. According to Fire Chief Doug Brent, Monday was used for classroom training then Tuesday through Thursday, the firefighters spent from 8a.m.-5p.m. below the hydro dams in Winooski learning how to deal with obstructions such as rocks and fallen trees in a water rescue. They practiced rope techniques, what to do when someone is swept downstream and how to get them back to shore, the use of boats and life saving rings, as well as dealing with the cold itself. “The most dangerous thing you can do is get in the water yourself,” Chief Brent said. 

Last week, firefighters participated in fire ground safety and survival training at the VT Academy headquarters in Pittsford. “Often, firefighters are trained to save other people, but not how to save themselves in the event of a structural collapse, for example,” Chief Brent said. Participants will use a variety of props to practice getting themselves out of dangerous situations. They will also be part of the “training the trainer” program, so when they return to SB they can share their knowledge. 

Chief Brent noted that, as a result of these trainings, “If anything happened in our community we’d be prepared to move in or to be activated by VT emergency management as part of a group response.”  

SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correspondent