First responders get ready for water rescues

Frankly, none of the firefighters really took the time to check how cold the water was, they just got to work.
“We didn’t put a thermometer in,” Gladewater Fire Chief Mike Simmons said. “No one really wanted to know.”
Needless to say, Lake Gladewater’s pretty cold right now.
Simmons put on a dry suit as well as first responders from Gladewater, Longview and Sabine got special water rescue training this week at the city’s primary water source. Almost a score of the various departments’ personnel attended one of the three days of exercises, including water rescue drills and skills as well as ropes rescue skills.
With the suit keeping moisture off the body, Simmons said Monday, “The reality is it was warmer in the water than it was standing on the shore with the wind blowing over you.”
Key tasks for the trainees ranged from the best ways to enter the water in the midst of an emergency to refining their defensive swim position, proper boat paddling and boat flipping, rope-bag throwing and how to properly drag victims in and out of the boat during a water rescue.
The trainees’ water rescue equipment was covered by a granted from the Sabine River Authority. The training was prompted, in part, by the development of the Sabine River Paddling Trail through Gregg County.
“The firefighters have done their bookwork, now they’re doing the physical skills,” Simmons said. “We’re basically the three departments that have boats and cover the river. If we have an incident on the Sabine River, we’re all going to be involved together.
“You perform better and respond better when you train together.”

– By James Draper

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