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SF Fire Rescue Practices Water Rescues

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It wasn't too long ago that two people drowned in the Big Sioux River at Falls Park in an attempt to rescue a 6-year-old boy who fell in.

It's incidents like that one, when rescue teams have to spring into action and put to use the skills they've learned to save lives.

And on Saturday, that’s exactly what they did.

More than a dozen firefighters from Sioux Falls Fire Rescue were put the skills they learned in the class room to the test, by performing a water rescue training exercise in the Big Sioux River.

“(We) Kind of get all those skills we learned together and use those hands on," said Ben Tracey, a fire fighter with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.

To simulate an actual water rescue mission, firefighters used a mannequin to act as the victim, and tossed it in the water and allowed it float down the river.

"We waited for it to get stuck on some rocks, to simulate a victim being entrapped in the rocks,” said Tracey.

Once the victim's body was stopped by the rocks, the firefighters worked in teams of three to complete what they call a ‘shallow water crossing.’

“It's a big team work thing. The guys stack up behind each other and help hold each other down. In faster higher currents you really have to help hold each other in that position," said Tracey.

It’s that Team effort that allows them to perform a successful rescue.

“I think the class and what they've learned in it has given them a better awareness and recognition of the process they were apart of and the response and just how we handle water rescues and water recovery," said Captain Nathan Ruml with Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.

While the rescue mission may have been a mock one, it's exercises like them, that help prepare the rescue team for the real thing.

“It's very important that we get the practice and we get out here when the conditions are right because accidents happen and that's why people call us and we need to be ready to go assist them and help them," said Tracey.

All of the students that participated in the water rescue exercise passed the test.

Next December they will complete an ice rescue mission as the second part of their training. Once they complete and pass that exercise, they will receive their water rescue certification for Sioux Falls Fire Rescue.

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