One of the most dangerous things firefighters train for is an overabundance of water.
As multiple hurricanes are sweeping the Bahamas and southeastern United States, Loudoun County firefighters are getting a refresher on swift water rescue—pulling people out of rivers and flooded roadways.
Friday, firefighters from Station 10 in Lucketts practiced pulling victims, including a baby, from a simulated car in the Potomac at Seneca Regional Park in Great Falls. It’s part of biannual refresher training, according to Special Operations Battalion Chief Roger Martin.
“It’s a high risk, low frequency ordeal,” Martin said. “We don’t see swift water calls all the time. However, 90 percent of our calls that we do run are usually a vehicle that’s stuck in a flooded roadway.”
Firefighters waded into the Potomac River to train on freeing people from a simulated car, based on the dimensions of a Honda Accord, from the river. Martin said it’s a good reminder when on the water to always use a personal flotation device, bring some sort of communications, and let someone know where you’re going. And it’s a reminder that if you see a flooded roadway, “turn around, don’t drown.”
If you find yourself stuck in the water, he said, the first job is to stay calm.
“Make contact, use your cellphones, yell, do something,” Martin said. “If you have to because the water’s rising, get out on top of the roof of the car. But if the water’s not rising, stay in the car. We’re coming to get you.”