I have had a bad case of writers block and just haven’t been able to settle on a topic for a new post and the then rains came. Man did it rain here in Colorado for the last couple of days; it has rained on a biblical level. One area south of Colorado Springs received 9 inches of rain in four hours.
In addition, through all of this, I watched video after video on Facebook and local media of the devastation brought by the waters. We have been in a drought for a few years now with watering restrictions and constant warnings of how dire our water supply is. This storm won’t relieve our drought but will cause millions of dollars in damage and has already claimed three lives.
Having lived my entire life in Colorado Springs I recognize all the landmarks in the background of the videos but that is all I recognize. Many of the peaceful little creeks that ring my town have been transformed into actual rivers. We don’t have any rivers in Colorado Springs we have creeks generally most of these can be crossed easily by foot.
However, for the last few days, these creeks have been transformed into raging rivers even streets have been transformed into tributaries of our newly formed waterways and through it all, there is the ever-present fire truck. Each fire truck contains four firefighters and they have been at it for over 48 hours now.
Dedicated men and women that put themselves at risk for the benefit of others, which they are happy to do, in fact we live for big events like this. Each fire truck and each crew become roaming lifesavers and problem solvers. There isn’t a lot of time to react in many of the situations encountered, it is up to the company officer to make the call, and that to me is the essence of being a firefighter.
Sizes up a situation in seconds determine a course of action and go to work. This is the life of a firefighter; we are trained to react at with calm, safe, and educated guesses, yeah guesses. Calculated guesses based on years of experience and a Rolodex full of past outcomes. Many of the tasks that firefighters take on in these huge events are standard rescues. You see the firefighters in dry suits or turn out gear wadding through knee-deep water and carrying or leading stranded motorists to safety and the you see the incredible rescues like the one outside of Boulder Colorado. An entire span of road just dropped out from under three cars.
Now here is where training and practice come into play. Every year in the spring the Colorado Springs Fire Department stages swift water rescue classes. Crews are taken down to the Arkansas River, a favorite destination of tourists seek a white water thrill ride, and taught and refreshed on swift water rescue.
Generally a really fun day on the water and most years that is all it is a rehearsal for a date that never comes. However, the fire crews in Boulder had to use their skills to rescue three stranded and helpless citizens and what an amazing job they did. Pulling the last man out of his car just as it fell back into the water. Those kinds of rescues make it all worthwhile.
However, there are other rescues that occur and they are the senseless ones. These are the rescues of idiots’ people that apparently were born with no common sense whatever. These are the dolts that drive into flooded streets and think they can make it across a road that has ten, twelve inches of standing or running water on them.
These morons just drive right into the water believing their minivan has the miraculous ability of an amphibious Army vehicle. Oh and then the car begins to float, drift, and flood. Then this helpless twit crawls out on the hood or roof of the vehicle and screams for help. A completely unnecessary waste of resources that put firefighters and the public at risk. Firefighters lose their lives in these situations.
By Kevin Simpson
Denver Post Staff Writer
August 26, 2000 - Water rescue experts nationwide contend that no amount of training or equipment could have saved Denver firefighter Robert Crump, whose spontaneous attempt to rescue a woman in swirling floodwaters cost him his life.
"I don't think it's possible to prepare for an improvised rescue," says Don Cooper, deputy chief of the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Fire Department and secretary of the National Fire Protection Association's technical rescue committee.
Although that assessment was echoed by other authorities, the Denver Fire Department will examine the circumstances of Crump's death and try to learn from it.
"I think everyone on the job will look at flash floods differently, look at storm drains in a different light," says Randy Atkinson, a spokesman for the Denver Fire Department and also president of the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters.
On Aug. 17, the 37-year-old Crump and fellow firefighter Will Roberts were directing traffic during a flash flood at East 50th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard when they saw Loretta Martinez stranded and clinging to a metal post.
The two waded into the intersection to retrieve the 45-year-old woman, but Crump was pulled under by the swirling waters of a 12foot-deep culvert. Roberts guided Martinez to safety and then, with a cable tied around his waist, tried in vain to locate his partner.
Crump's body was found six hours later in a drainage ditch two blocks away.
"When you see somebody out there, by nature you have an inherent feeling that you have the duty to respond," says Scott Frazier, commander of the Los Angeles Fire Department's urban search and rescue unit. "When you see somebody in trouble, it becomes your moral obligation to do something. I can't fault them.
"I applaud them." Cooper emphasizes that Crump's venture into the floodwaters with his partner should not be judged as a classic "water rescue" operation. Both firefighters were sent to the scene not to perform a rescue, but to manage traffic.
So please if you find yourself in a situation where crossing a flooded road seems like your only choice, don’t do it. don’t put yourself at risk or the firefighters that come to your rescue.
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