BEND, OR -- Bend Fire and Rescue put five rookies through their paces, Tuesday, with swift water rescue training at the First Street Rapids. Engineer Will Akins says the training provides opportunities to learn about key factors in river-related emergency calls. "We have certain access points for the river. So, being able to identify, once we have somebody in trouble in the water: what’s their location? Are they stuck on a rock, or are they in the river floating down. So, what’s going to be our best access; how many victims we have and what the problem is."
Akins tells KBND News the new recruits get hands-on experience, "Something as basic as having a throw-bag, where they have a rope inside of a bag and they simply throw that rope out at them as they float down the river and they can grab onto it and they can pull them to the shore; all the way up to more complex rope systems that allow us to attach our rafts to a rope system and we can send that raft to and from the shoreline."
He says water-related emergencies increase as the weather warms, "They can be somewhat frequent in the summertime. The warmer the days get, the more chance there is of us receiving a call." He adds, "We can get a couple in a day, and other times we’ll get one every week or so. And, even with those, sometimes they can self-resolve. They’re resolved while we’re responding to the incident."
On Monday, they worked on knott-tying, rappelling and high-angle rescues.