SALUDA — Officials from Newberry County Water Rescue, Prosperity Rescue, the S.C. National Guard, S.C. State Guard and S.C. Task Force One participated in a Basic Swiftwater Rescue class over the weekend to better prepare responders for emergencies involving water.
“This teaches basic knowledge for safety and teaches basic levels to stay safe and also keep the scene and rescuer safe. Water operations are dangerous so it’s important that we teach in a safe environment,” said instructor Scott Krein.
During the three-day course, which started Friday and ended Sunday, students learned a variety of skills.
“Friday, we did a lot of book work and rope skills. We educated and showed different equipment that will help make the scene safer. Sunday we did a lot of rescuer safety and getting a patient out of the water safely,” Krein said.
On Saturday, students performed river ferrying and straining drills, along with learning how to transport more than one patient across the water safely. Students also learned how to properly secure a flotation device and pull a patient in.
Jyrell Shedd with the S.C. Task Force One South Carolina Emergency Response Task Force was participating for the first time.
“This is a very broad experience and a good learning experience. It was an all around good course,” Shedd said.
Shedd added that the course was not for someone who is not a strong swimmer.
“You have to be in a decent shape and physical abilities pretty much have to be above par, so it’s not something for just anybody to do,” said Shedd. “Within fire service or emergency response services altogether, this is an area that we have more and more people that we need for these rescues and without the people trained to do this properly, you wind up with more victims than people being helped.”
Joe Borrelli, who is also with S.C. Task Force One, grew up around the beach and has been around the ocean often, but never any kind of swiftwater.
“It’s definitely strenuous. In this environment I wouldn’t say it’s unattainable, but each situation depends on the current conditions and what you’re involved in. Training sessions can go bad obviously, but it wasn’t unbearable,” said Borrelli. “Training is key. If you’ve never touched it or never done anything or know what you’re capable of, it can go really bad.”
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.