Thursday, May 25, 2017

Water Rescue Team Completes Two-Day Training

Rapid Creek site of refresher course

Rapid City, SD- The Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue Team (WRT) completed a two-day Swiftwater Rescue Technician Advanced refresher course in the Black Hills this week. The team took advantage of lower stream flows to practice highly technical techniques for rescuing individuals in the swiftwater environment. 

Those trained as Swiftwater Rescue Technicians at the advanced level are specially trained in advanced rescue situations both in and over water including search management in swiftwater and flood environments.

During the first night of training, the crews trained on mechanical advantage and rope systems as well as night and poor visibility water operations. This training included an exercise at the Dakota Point area of Sheridan Lake. Members were required to set-up rope systems and rappel to the spillway area of Sheridan Lake at night (pictured below).

Above: A Water Rescue Team member rappels to the spillway area of Sheridan Lake during night operations training.

Above: Sheridan Lake Spillway area.

Above: Crews establish an anchor point and build a mechanical advantage system during night and poor visibility water operations training at Sheridan Lake's Dakota Point area.

During the second day of training, the team trained on swiftwater and flood search management, true and conditional rescues, high energy tethers, and paddle boat handling. The second day of training was conducted in an area of Rapid Creek downstream of the Placerville Church Camp.

Above: Crews practice with the Rapid Deployment Craft (RDC) in moving water as part of Swiftwater Rescue Technician Advanced training.

Above: Water Rescue Team members train with a device known as a Water Curtain. The device is designed provide a large grab area for confused swimmers and troubled victims. 

Above: A simulated victim has gotten their foot trapped in underwater debris and is awaiting rescue. 

Above: WRT member Calen Maningas yells out instructions to members during rescue exercises.

Above: A WRT member practices the "live bait" technique of rescuing a victim who is being swept downstream. Tethered via rope, the rescuer jumps headlong into the water to grab the victim before being tethered to safety.

The Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue Team (WRT) has been a combined effort of the Rapid City Fire Department, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and the Rapid City Police Department, since 1987. The team provides services to Rapid City, Pennington County and the surrounding region. The WRT can respond to a variety of calls, including dive rescue and recovery, surface rescue and recovery, swift water rescue and recovery, ice rescue and recovery and evidence recovery and underwater crime scene investigation

As the largest water rescue team in the region, the WRT is classified as a Type III response team and is currently undergoing training to enhance their capabilities to a Type II response team.

The team can be called to a myriad of water related calls and the members perform their duties in trying and hazardous conditions that include black water diving, ice diving, night time operations, and exposure to extreme temperatures. The team is available 24 hours a day.

With the area’s growing population and increased interest in water sports, as well as a continuing threat of flooding from Rapid Creek and the surrounding area, the WRT is an essential part of the public safety efforts provided by the cooperating agencies. Over the past several years, the WRT has responded to dozens of water related calls for service including drowning rescue and recovery, evidence recovery, and swift water rescues and recovery.

For more information on the Rapid City/Pennington County Water Rescue Team or for comment or questions related to this article, please contact the Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Officer at (605)-394-4180.