|Updated: 6/03/2012 3:25 pm
||Published: 6/02/2012 6:15 pm
Nearly 300 firefighters from counties all over Arkansas are participating in the 9th Annual Fire Boat School training event.
Emergency crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, Arkansas Fire Academy, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas Forestry Commission, and Air Evac Lifeteam are training in simulated scenarios to help better prepare for when disaster strikes.
The drills include responding to emergencies like flooded buildings, people stranded in the water, live electrical wires, gas leaks, as well as other challenging situations.
Nearly 50 boats participated in the training exercises. A U.S Coast Guard helicopter deployed a rescue swimmer to help lift mock victims to be transported.
Communications Director for the Arkansas Fire Boat Committee Adriane Harrell says the training scenarios are based on real life situations. "When we have disasters like the flooding last year on the Mississippi River or when we had Albert Pike a few years ago, fire departments have to work together. Often times they're working together for the first time, and you don't want that to happen on an emergency scene."
The team building training offers hands-on experience exposing crews to situations they'll deal with in real life. Dan Watson is a volunteer with the Joplin Fire Department and has been attending Fire Boat School since 2007. "You really need to spend some time being prepared, understanding the capabilities of your boats and your crews to be able to participate in a number of scenarios."
Agencies train side by side with the goal to take what they've learned at Fire Boat School back home to better serve their own communities.
Rescue crews understand how dangerous this line of work is. This year's training exercises are dedicated to the memory of senior rescue swimmer, Fernando Jorge, who lost his life in the line of duty.
This is the largest inland emergency training on record in the United States. Crews come from Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana to train alongside Arkansas crews.