Flood rescue training ongoing in the Pearl River slough
Published 12:20 pm Friday, February 21, 2014
By Jeremy Pittari
This week emergency personnel from several Madison County departments participated in swift water training at the Pearl River slough at Walkiah.
The slough is the only place in the state that creates a stable environment of fast moving water in which to conduct the training. At this location, rescue workers can see what working in fast moving water is like and how the conditions make rescues difficult.
“It’s a very intense class,” said Madison Police Patrol First Class Jamie Brooks. “It includes a lot of hands-on training and a lot of time in the water.”
Brooks said they try to conduct this training at least twice a year, which entails trainees getting into the rough water and either pretending to be a victim, or a rescuer.
“It helps them study the river, what it does, how strong it is and what it takes to get someone out of the water,” Brooks said.
The training included beginner criteria in addition to some advanced training, Brooks said.
This round of trainees came from Ridgeland Fire Department, Flowood Police Department, Pearl Police Department, Madison Police Department and the Madison Emergency Operations Center.
Once their training is complete Friday afternoon, the trainees will all be swift water technicians capable of responding to flood waters in their areas, or provide mutual aid to areas across the state.
City of Pearl Fire Marshal Chris Flaherty said the training taught him how to rig a system used for swift water rescue, how to deploy a boat in those conditions and how to conduct a shore-based rescue.
Ridgeland Fire Department Training Officer Craig Nash said there is no better place to conduct this training than the Pearl River slough, in part due to its short distance of the rapid water.
Pearl River County Emergency Operations Manager Danny Manley said the importance of this training becomes apparent when flood situations create fast moving water that victims can get caught in.
“I now have a greater respect for the power of water,” said Josh Luke with the Madison Fire Department after spending some time in the water. “I feel when I’m done with this training I will be confident to work in these situations.”