Tucson Fire crews train for monsoon rescues

TUCSON, Ariz. - Every year we are reminded not to drive through flooded areas. 

There is always a select few that think they can make it.

The Tucson Fire Department will come to your rescue, all thanks to their training.

Pounding rain, strong winds, and flooded roads are all common sights during monsoon.  Some years are worse than others, which is why firefighters need to have those tools in the toolbox for the "worse case scenario." 

Its not a matter of "if" a flash flood will happen, but "when," Tucson Fire Captain Andy Skaggs said.  

Every year the Tucson Fire Department rescues dozens of people caught in a flash flood.

As the potential for big storms looms, all local firefighters are brushing up on their rescue skills, learning from last year. 

The training starts well before monsoon and is divided into sections. 

According to Captain Skaggs, the first and most important of them all is actually practicing how to safely get to the location and where to set up. 

This part of the training is the most time consuming, Skaggs said.

During this part of the training,  truck operators maneuver through different hazards they may encounter when they are out in the field. A crucial part of the training for the staging of the operation, Skaggs added.

"If we park too close to the water, it might be an acceptable level when we get there, but as the scene progresses, the water level rises, and the truck becomes a victim of that water as well," he said.

This is, by no means, an easy task for crews, since time is of the essence. Making the right choice, quickly, is critical, Skaggs added. 

Firefighters determine the method of rescue, based on the situation.

In the scenario we witnessed, firefighters extend their ladder and help the person climb off of the car. First responders hoist the victim using the rescue ring and then suspended them above the water by tightening a ring around the upper torso. 

The drill took about 15 minutes to complete and was overall successful, but there is always room for improvement, Skaggs said.

That's why the last part of the training is important as the rest, he added. They talked about what went wrong and right in training and what they learned and what to improve on. 

As first responders continue preparing for the worst ahead of the monsoon - they're hoping you'll make the right choice to turn around.


ADDITIONAL MONSOON COVERAGE: 

Tucson Fire crews train for monsoon rescues

Learn the frequent flooders and finding alternate routes

Monsoon: a double-edged sword in rural Arizona

Dangerous Monsoon rescues over the years

Nogales resident prepare for another year of monsoon, look back at 2017 monsoon

Hot spots to cool off can be deadly during monsoon

Monsoon 2018: What to do when the lights go out

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