As the monsoon approaches, the Tucson Fire Department is preparing for a busy season. On Wednesday, firefighters participated in a water rescue training exercise on the east side.
"It takes some special training for us to get those people," Capt. Mark Oppel said. "They're in a very difficult place to get."
He explained these kinds of water rescues aren't typically part of firefighters day-to-day routine. That's why they need to practice before the season starts. He said rope rescues take precise communication and very specialized techniques to rescue people from the water.
"It's a time-dependent evolution," he said. "It's something where someone is in a very dangerous spot and we need to get to them right now. Using the rope rescue is our method of reaching down where we can't go, we can't get in the wash and swim to them."
The fire captain said they'll get many calls throughout the season, usually about cars getting swept away into washes and people needing to get rescued from them. However, he noted there are sometimes people that will end up in fast-flowing washes in other ways. Regardless, he stressed these are not places to hang around during the season.
"To look at it, you really don't get the feel for just how much force is being exerted on the human being while they're out there in the water," he said. "It's not something that you can go out and go for a swim, it's not something to sit by the riverside and enjoy, it's extremely dangerous."
His best advice to drivers -- turn around and find another route; and to pedestrians: stay away for safety.