By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Be it on a call or standby, our local first responders are always doing something to better serve the citizens of Tucker County. Accidents and disasters do not recognize holidays or weekends, therefore training exercises sometimes don’t either. For five local volunteer firefighters, Mothers Day was spent practicing swift water rescue techniques and maneuvers. Brett Ware, Patsy Bates, Garrett Carrico, Gary Meloy, and Michael Adkins of Company 10 recently completed an extensive surface and swift water class. This certified these individuals at Swift Water Technician Level as well as joining Captains Preston Simmons and Tom Klus at Technician Level in Water and Rope Level Expertise.
This recently completed training covered scenarios on the surface as well as amidst swift moving and flooded conditions. “The training included components involving obtaining information, making decisions on that information, accessing victims in and out of the water, stabilizing the victim for transport, and securing the scene,” explained Klus. Being able to assess and react appropriately to a scenario that changes each moment is crucial in being successful in this type of event. He said the skills acquired during this training included using an inflatable watercraft, recovering an overturned watercraft, individual swimming skills in moving water, and in water contact of victims.
Fire Fighter Adkins had this to say about his experience with the swift water training. “I would say the class was an eye opener of sorts. To feel the actual power of water and learn how to not let the water control you was an incredible thing to learn,” he said. “The class was just a start to what needs to be repeated practice to be proficient in the world of water rescue.” Adkins continued, “There are hundreds of people that come to our area for our river systems every year. Since being on the water is becoming more popular, it only makes sense for our department to have a team ready for that type of call.”
Company 10 Chief Kevin White stated, “Parsons VFD strives to offer all our coverage area many forms of fire and rescue services. We saw a need for more highly trained responders with the increasing traffic on our waterways, and the always present high water events.” Already Tucker County has experienced at least two water rescues and the season for such activity hasn’t even commenced yet. White continued, “We commend these individuals for stepping up to the challenge and we thank Captain Tom Klus for providing the training.”
Adkins added to White’s comment regarding Klus, stating “It’s really important at least to me to mention how critical it was to have a resource like Tom Klus at hand to teach us these skills. Without Tom, there wouldn’t be any type of Rescue Technicians in Company 10.”
This class concluded the schooling section of a 106 hour curriculum that includes skill work and classroom work. During the course, those attending are required to pass skill tests before completing three written exams at the conclusion of the training. “Now we start practicing the skills that were learned during the course work,” Klus stated.