An Inside Look At Swift Water Rescues

MALVERN, AR — In a water rescue, every second counts.

So, it’s important the people who pull you from the water know exactly what they’re doing.

FOX 16 got an inside look on how men and women train for swift water rescues.

Tonight, 7 men trained at the Ouachita River in Malvern and while it’s just training…the men who do it, treat these exercises as if they’re real life.

Kevin Hall, Coordinator of Grant County Rescue, said, “The last rescue we did, a gentleman drove off in the water and got swept away.”

Hall took the 11 day course and now, two of his men are doing the same.

He said, “We want to make sure they have the best training possible.”

And according to Hall, Mark Clippinger with Ozark Rescue, provides that training.

Clippinger says he teaches people who take the course to learn how to save themselves first.

Then, they can learn to save a victim.

He said, “We don’t want to lose anybody if we can.”

That’s why swimming out in the water — to the person in trouble — is always a last-ditch effort.

It’s also one of the most physically and mentally challenging parts of this course.

Clippinger said, “We try to push their limits and put them out of their comfort zone.”

During the course some of the exercises the men learn are throwing a rope out to a victim and pulling them in and swimming out to the victim with a flotation device and helping that person get back to shore safely.

Clippinger says between 60-70% of water rescues happen when it’s dark out, so the men will also do some of their training in the evening hours.

Hall says they put this training to use two to three times a year usually when someone drives through high water and gets swept away.

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