El Niño: Swift Water Rescuers Say They're Ready!

As winds have firefighters thinking about battling brushers this week, they are also thinking about El Niño. Swift Water rescue teams have been training and, in some cases, adding technicians as they plan for what might be an extra wet rainy season.

Two weeks ago LA City Fire Swift Water Rescuers helped train and certify 18 members of LA County Search and Rescue as technicians for the county's Swift Water Rescue. 

All of the swift water rescue teams in our area are prepped! We checked with LA, OC, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties.

Captain Tom Henzgen who coordinates LA City's Swift Water Program says that “based on the predictions and what the experts are saying we’re supposed to see a record El Nino.”

So, LA City Fire has its jet skis and rafts ready and continue to go through what they describe as rigorous training.

Riverside Fire Battalion Chief Jennifer McDowell says the 97-98 El Nino taught her “we need to bring in more resources right away… early on so that we can set ourselves up for success.”

In Ventura County the aviation unit has been doing some flight training with its choppers. They’re gear is all in working order and they are hoping for the best even though they are planning for the worst.

Firefighter/Paramedic Randy Gilbert expects more calls for help this winter. He says, "the frequency of the calls will be different, the training won’t be different.  It’ll be the same thing that we train for but we’re just going to do it more frequently more than likely this year.”

“Rescuers say if you see somebody in the water and they’re in trouble call 911 right away. Keep an eye on the victim and use common sense because, as Captain Henzgen says, “If someone is floating by and you jump in without the proper equipment for downstream safety you’re most likely going to be a victim yourself.”

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