Swift water rescue class gives responders first hand experience
POLK COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -
A kayaker fights for his life after being swept away by a strong current. Another braves the running waters for a rescue attempt.
This demonstration is a live test for members of the Hamilton County STARS rescue team who make real life-saving in dangerous waters.
"They can use the current to make assessments on what is the right tactic to use for the rescue but also they can use that current to their advantage instead of against them in order to make a successful rescue," says Dan Wheeley.
The group goes through rigorous training in different swift water situations throughout the day.
This portion of the Hiwasee River is one that allows for a more dangerous current making the simulation seem more real.
Crew members come prepared with wetsuits, life vests, helmets, and rope for pulling people to shore.
The STARS chief says the unusual amount or rainfall this summer has given the group more practice than normal.
"We have had some swift water floods this summer that have been very unusual.we have had more flash floods than normal and a little creek becomes a raging river during a flash flood," says Clay Ingle.
Ingle says drowning in swift waters is among the leading causes of natural disaster deaths in the U.S.
Barry Baird says he's more equipped for water rescues after completing the course.
"This gives us more knowledge. This gives us a skill set we didn't have prior to this."