Running water during monsoon presents dangers for all involved

Man saves two people in monsoon
Posted at 4:58 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 09:38:52-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Every monsoon we warn people not to drive through running water, but every year drivers still think they can make it, and get stuck.

Not only is it illegal, but as Tucson Fire Captain Brad DeCastro explains, it's extremely dangerous for everyone involved.

What they need to know is we're going to use whatever method we need to use to get them, starting with the easiest. If we can reach them with the aerial, that's what we'll do.

But that's not always possible. Roger Thomson, with Tucson Fire, tells me they have to be prepared for anything.

"Every situation is going to be different for sure," he said.

Thompson also tells me they often have to use the rescue ring. It's an effective, but a more dangerous method. He walks me through a basic ring rescue.

"It will be short simple commands of hey put your arms up for me, I'm gonna send this down, you're going to put it around your shoulders, around your chest and then I'm going to pull and tug up on it. Just kind of walking them through the whole situation."

Sounds safe enough, but imagine that with extremely dangerous elements, like rushing water, severe weather, and a panicking victim.

This is why it's so important to heed the warnings, and don't ignore the signs. Though most swift-water rescues can be avoided by simply making the right decision, sometimes there are no warning signs, and someone gets caught off guard. DeCastro says the best thing the victim can do to help during a rescue, is simply following directions.

Dangerous Monsoon rescues over the years

"We're going to be very direct with the victim on what we're going to do and how we're going to help them. And just follow directions. It's very easy for you to want to jump out to the areal or jump up to the rescue ring as it's coming down to you, just follow directions and we'll get through it together."

Thompson tells me it takes several trucks and as many as 26 firefighters for a single rescue. That's because they need a crew to be sent up and downstream in case the victim or the rescuer get washed away. And sometimes they get multiple calls at once.

"So there would be 26 people on this call, 26 on that one, 26 on that one. So it definitely depletes our resources."