Firefighters practice for swift water rescues after recent rain

By  | 

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) With recent rains and more on the way Wichita Fire's rescue team was out on the river Thursday practicing for the dangerous situations swift water brings.

"The power of it is unmatched, and people get in trouble with it really quickly," said Captain Brent Holman with the Wichita Fire Department. "They might think they are having a good time and the next thing you know they are in big trouble."

The Wichita Fire Department has a 45 person rescue team over the three 24-hour shifts. The team trains for several different rescue scenarios, but says swift water makes them the most nervous.

"Out of all the training we do, the swift water makes me the most nervous out of all of it just because of the power of the water," said Holman. "Even with all of the gear we have we can get caught in it as well, so we're pretty careful about it."

"It's really important right now because it is the rainy season and the rivers get swollen," said firefighter Josh Bruggeman. "Somebody's out here canoeing or kayaking, they tip over, we have the resources where we have a jet ski and a couple boats, we can launch pretty quick to help."

Every year fire crews across the state are faced with real life situations involving swift water. Sometimes the water is too strong to save the person in it.

Last year a Butler County man was killed after falling into the Walnut River and swept under by the current. In 2013, a boy was swept under and killed after swimming in Wichita's "Big Ditch."

"The best advice I can give people is stay away from it," said Holman. "It doesn't take a whole lot of water current to sweep you away. It only takes one little lung full of water and then you're down and you don't get back up."

If you are going to be around rivers or other bodies of water, Holman suggests wearing a life jacket and solid shoes.