I seen it on TV, but was on the phone and had it muted. I thought it was footage from a flash flood somewhere. Not until I seen our local news did I realize how unusual this water rescue was. I am a SW Tech with our department and teach classes every so often. This incident will probably be brought up in discussion. I always have someone say "We don't have rivers around here", so they think water rescue training is not important. Wrong!
We watched it live with the guys on shift... a few questions arised amongst the group. None of which are meant to be negative, as we were not there live and have only the information presented by the newscrew.
What was the thought on the risk vs gain of using unassisted helicopter basket rescues without a helo rescue tech loading the baskets?
Was the flat bottom boat used by the FD, your rescue boat or one from the neighborhood? In our Swift Water Training Program the boat and belay line technique from upstream is a last resort, we did note that boat ultimately got swamped and sunk and your rescuer was lifted by the helo.
Was there thought as to the possiblity of just having the occupants of the cars wait for the main to be closed? Some of the cars never had water above the bottom of their hubcaps, verse possibly flipping a boat, sinking a boat or suffering a helo crash, or even snagging the utility wires along side the road, etc. The basket loading without a trained rescuer assisting seems very dangerous for the victim(s) and we watched her load her pocket book first then her child, LOL.
Obviously a call that happens few and far between. Look forward to hearing more about the risk verse gain modeling, operational plan, ICS and span of control aspects of this incident.
Great job by all that had to deal with an unfamiliar incident, make rescues and go to work that day!
I watched that story in CNN and I have to say you guys and gals did a great job. That was not any easy call to have to handle with the water situation and all.... I was really impressed. Again great job....
For the first question, the reason for the helo basket, it was below freezing that morning, so there was a layer of ice, that made it extremely hard to walk on and the rescuers were unable to reach a few of the cars so the helo was needed. There were people on the shore directing the helos that we train with on a regular basis.
second: Our department has a few different boats to choose from, that was OUR "john boat" and was used because our other boats are inflatable with jet propulsion engines on them so they wouldn't work. There was a tension-diagonal set up stream (i guess thats what i would call it). The water was rushing at such a rate that the sides of the road disintegrated, so the boat got stuck on the side of the river. The rescuer did not want to be airlifted, but the command officer had him lifted anyways.
Third: There was not a choice for waiting for the main to be closed. The main was 66" on the inside diameter and it took 4hrs to ultimately shut down all the valves. water was rushing into cars and as you know water removes the body of heat 4 times faster than air of the same temperature, so hypothermia was immanent and the people had to be rescued ASAP. Some vehicles "down stream" were rescued by our engine that was able to drive up (making 4 rescues)