Red Oak Fire Rescue recently attended a swift water rescue technician course in New Braunfels. The course, which was held on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers, was attended by several fire departments from throughout Texas.

Those attending the course from Red Oak were Capt. Kyle Taylor and Capt. Les Thomas and firefighters Jorge Guerrero, Holly Newman, Andy Trojacek and Jason Harris. This update in swift water rescue training raises the swift water rescue technician staffing level to 12 certified technicians on staff at Red Oak. This course enhanced the abilities of the Red Oak Fire Rescue Technical Rescue Team by improving members’ knowledge through classroom and practical scenario based training in a live setting.

Swift water technician training is considered to be one of the most demanding technical rescue disciplines. Upon completing the training, the basic water rescuer reaches the highest level of training in swift water training. Pre-requisites to this course include completion of swift water awareness, swift water operations and rope rescue technician courses.

Awareness level training introduces personnel to the problems of water and rescue and procedures to follow when encountered with flash floods, large-scale disasters and seasonal flooding. At the awareness level, the responder is not considered a rescuer.

At the operations level, students are trained in hazard recognition, equipment use and techniques necessary to conduct basic shore and boat based rescue. After completion of operations course certified personnel may participate in higher risk technical rescues under the supervision of technician level rescuers.

Red Oak’s 12 certified swift water technicians are at the top level of water rescue. Their training was 40 hours in duration. The course covered all aspects of the water rescue technician series and the technicians have now met the requirements for the technician level in both water and rope for the NFPA 1670 Standard.

“The swift water technician training has improved the knowledge base, which has enhanced Red Oak’s response capabilities, and greatly increased the effectiveness for our surrounding communities and our partners that we have an inter-jurisdictional mutual aid agreement with — the Ellis Dallas Unified Cooperative Team,” a spokesman for the department said, naming departments for the cities of Cedar Hill, Desoto, Duncanville, Ferris, Glenn Heights, Lancaster, Midlothian, Ovilla and Waxahachie as members of EDUCT with Red Oak.

“With the severe weather we are experiencing in North Texas, be aware that water can rise quickly and become very dangerous. One can easily be deceived into thinking that water is not at a level that can be dangerous. Six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and 2 feet or water will float your car,” the spokesman said. “Don’t risk it - if there is water on the roadway, don’t pass over it. Manhole covers could also come off and there may be other hazards you can’t see. Also remember to not try to swim through fast flowing water - you could get swept away or be struck by an object in the water.”