‘Relentless:’ Longview firefighters train for water rescue

‘Relentless:’ Longview firefighters train for water rescue.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 2:53 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - When flooding rains threaten the area, an East Texas water rescue team must be ready to go, and more important, extensively trained in lifesaving techniques.

A training session took place today in Harrison County, as water rescue team members met to practice life-saving scenarios.

At Pirkey Power Plant Lake, members of the East Texas water rescue team as well as Alert Academy cadets, participated in numerous critical life-saving drills.

“Our goal is to train as often as we can, this is a great resource out here. This is an initial training for these guys to get their swift water rescue technicians certification. We see a lot of flooding here in Texas. On average Texas has more people die in flooding than the rest of the U.S. combined,” says team instructor and Longview firefighter lieutenant Stephen Winchell.

Drills involving equipment for quick line placement, setting rescue buoys, and avoiding water obstacles.

“Motorized boats that we were running yesterday, to paddle drafts that we can use in whitewater. How to contact victims and rescue them both above water and even underwater situations,” the lieutenant says.

One of the essentials for any team member, swimming! They must be able to swim strong and sometimes against current.

“Water is relentless, it doesn’t turn off. It will keep coming and coming, doesn’t care if you’re tired,” says team member Wes Teague.

The objective is being proficient, and time efficient, because every second counts when lives are in danger.

“Very difficult to do any of this alone. We all work together. Everyone has a job, everyone has some role in each rescue,” Teague says.

“Moving water is very unforgiving. High hazard, things happen fast, and if we’re not squared away when it comes, we won’t be able to provide the service and do the rescues that we need to,” Winchell says.

The team will be in ‘Broken Bow’ Oklahoma tomorrow and Friday for rapid water training.

When the inevitable floods come from torrential rains, an East Texas water rescue team must be ready to go.