January 16th, 2021

Water Rescue Team keeps afloat with latest in training

By Lethbridge Herald on June 17, 2020.

Members of the Lethbridge Fire & Emergency Department Water Rescue Team work on learning the functions and movements of their new boats to assist them in rescuing people on open waters this summer. Herald photo by Greg Bobinec @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec
Lethbridge Herald
Lethbridge Fire & Emergency Services has been conducting training with the Water Rescue Team over the last couple of weeks, to make sure their training is kept up to date for the community’s safety.
Over the past two weeks, all members of the Water Rescue Team had the opportunity to gain knowledge and training for their new equipment, as well as rescue methods and landscape planning.
“The training we are doing right now with the Water Rescue Team is very important to the Fire Department,” says Brendon Pyne, Water Rescue Team leader, Lethbridge Fire Department. “We just acquired two new boats to our fleet and we are getting our Water Rescue members familiarized with the new boats and how they operate and handle, because they are quite different than our previous boats. The training of going up and down the river is really good for us to pick out where the hazards are, and what issues we could possibly encounter if we have to go out for a rescue.”
The new boats acquired are specifically designed to float along the river with ease, with additional protection from unseen hazards and potential low spots.
“The river boats are specifically designed to operate on the river and moving water with a Teflon bottom with additional steel plating, just adds protection if we are going down the river and hit rocks, it doesn’t do any damage to the boat,” says Pyne. “It is very important for our guys to be trained, not only on the operation of our boats but also on the area familiarization so we know what hazards are out there, how our boats are going to respond in a certain situation.”
The training groups are normally a full team training session, but with COVID-19 restrictions the team had to be divided into two groups. Throughout the course, the teams worked on a variety of training, with a focus on understanding the new boats.
“Right now we have the luxury of doing our training while the river is high, but we will have to come back out when the river is lower because it presents different hazards when the water drops down,” said Pyne. “We are learning boat operations on all three of our boats.
“We have a weir deck boat, a Zodiac and we have a river boat, and we are learning how they operate in the water … emergency procedures, how to get in and out of different situations. We are doing victim pickups, we are learning how to anchor the boats.”
With COVID restrictions slowly opening up, the Oldman River will become a hot-spot for summer activities, and Pyne would like to advise the public to take the necessary precautions before making way on the open water.
“All I ask that if people are going to be on the water to take the best necessary precautions,” says Pyne. “They should make sure that their floatation device has no leaks in it, they should be filing a float plan with a loved one so they know when they are going, where they are expected to get out and a time frame. People should also have proper footwear in case they need to exit the water early, strongly advise not having any alcoholic beverages with you, make sure you have a PFD, and if you can’t swim have a PFD.”
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