PIQUA – The sound of boat motors could be heard roaring down the Great Miami River in Piqua on Tuesday as members of both Piqua and Sidney fire departments trained for what is probably inevitable … a victim, trapped by high and swift-moving water.
All-too-fresh in the minds of firefighters from both departments, as well as those from neighboring volunteer departments are the memories of several dramatic swift-water rescues just last summer.
Fortunately, all of those rescues were successful but the need for recurring training is ongoing.
Another concern for the Piqua Fire Department is that with the ongoing development of the Riverscape Project, and additional activity on and around the Great Miami River, the risk of someone finding themselves in need of rescue becomes greater.
In spite of winter-like conditions, firefighters wearing dry-suits entered the river and began practicing “self-rescue” techniques. In order to be able to save someone else, firefighters must be able to understand, and be prepared for the effects of cold, swift, water.
Line throwing techniques are also critical at a water rescue and firefighters spent time on the river banks honing their skills and various ways to throw safety line bags.
Boat handling is an important part of most water rescues and firefighters spent time at the tiller of both a Zodiac-type inflatable raft and a flat-bottom jon boat. Instructors taught boat-handling techniques such as the best way to make turns in swift currents and how to most safely approach a victim in the water.
And finally, firefighter “victims” swam to the middle of the river where boat crews approached them and brought them to safety in the boats.
Training will continue on Wednesday and Thursday in order that all three shifts have an opportunity to participate.