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2900 Swift Water procedure

TFCA Best Practices:
4.05, 4.06
Fire Chief: Eric Thompson
To provide procedures/guidelines for the response to and operations during
surface, swift water or dive rescues; may include specific information about
equipment use and maintenance.
This policy applies to all uniformed personnel.
A. Introduction
There are numerous areas that have bodies of water or flood potential in the service
areas of Red Oak Fire Rescue (ROFR). Often, situations arise that necessitate the
response of Fire Department personnel and equipment to these areas for the purpose
of rescue or recovery operations, It is the intent of this policy to outline Water Rescue
and Recovery operations and establish procedures for handling them.
1. The Water Rescue Team is a specially trained and equipped rescue team having the
skills and tools necessary to make rescues in unusual situations dealing with water-type
2. The Water Rescue Team is stationed at Fire Station-182. When possible, members
assigned to Station-182 shall be certified to the minimum of Swift Water Rescue
Technician 1 (SRT1) level.
3. The Assistant Fire Chief/Training Coordinator (C-182) is responsible for coordinating
all training for the Water Rescue Team. The Rescue Team training coordinator is
responsible for the following:
a. Coordinating continuing education for the Water Rescue Team.
b. Coordinating department-wide Water Rescue Team training.
c. Coordinating the selection of members of Red Oak Fire Rescue for out-ofdepartment training.
d. Coordinating the completion of Water Rescue Team training records.
4. The Assistant Fire Chief/Training Coordinator (C-182) will maintain accurate records
of all Water Rescue Team members assigned to the station. Additionally, each shift
Captain will assist the Assistant Fire Chief/Training Coordinator assigned the primary
responsibility for training coordination with all aspects of the Water Rescue Team
program to include:
a. Certification of personnel
b. Continuing training of personnel. Each Water Rescue Team member will
receive a minimum of sixteen (16) hours of continuing education each year as
per subject breakdowns on the Water Rescue Training Sheet.
c. Equipment evaluation.
d. Recommending equipment purchases (done through Fire Chief).
e. Disposal of unusable equipment (coordinated through Fire Chief).
f. Response and operating procedures of the Water Rescue Team (Alarm Office
procedures and special requests will govern the response procedures).
g. Any other matters relating to the management of the Water Rescue Team.
5. Water Rescue Team operational records will be maintained at Station-181 and will be
kept current by the Assistant Fire Chief/Training Coordinator. Operational records will
include rosters, training activities, equipment inspections, equipment usage, and any
other records necessary for the efficient and effective functioning of the Water Rescue
6. All requests for repair to, replacement of or additions to the Water Rescue Team
inventory of equipment will be directed to the Fire Chief.
B. Description
1. Water Rescue
a. Water rescues are high danger evolutions. They require high levels of technical
knowledge, coordination and back-up safety systems to insure effective
operations. Water rescue operations are divided into three domains that are
determined by location, water-flow characteristics, and rescue requirements.
b. The three domains of water rescue are divided into High Water Rescues, Open
Water Rescues, and Swift Water Rescues. These calls will be answered on an
emergency basis.
2. Underwater Recovery shall be conducted only by certified Dive Rescue/recovery
Divers. Waxahachie is the Dive Team whom shall be contacted first. (TFCA BP
a. Underwater recovery is defined as any situation where dragging or diving
operations are necessary. This will include drowning and retrieval operations for
the various law enforcement agencies.
b. Underwater recovery may be required in any type of water rescue domain and
may require technical skills appropriate to the specific domain.
C. Guidelines for Response (TFCA BP 4.05, 4.06)
1. Water Rescue
a. High Water Rescues include drownings, entrapments and other perils that occur
in swimming pools, ponds, dammed levees, and other areas in which water is not
flowing in a downstream manner and rescues will be made by direct contact
without the use of a rescue boat. The initial emergency response to a High Water
Rescue will be one (1) Chief Officer, nearest Engine or Truck company and
b. Open Water Rescue is required in areas where contact rescues are not possible
and a boat rescue is required. Rescues of this nature may be performed by any
ROFR member wearing a Personal Floatation Device (PFD). The initial
emergency response to an Open Water Rescue will be one (1) Chief Officer, the
nearest engine or truck company, ETMC, and a Boat with the Swift Water
Rescue Team (R-182).
c. Swift Water Rescue is required when victims are imperiled in areas of moving
water where water depth, velocity, and terrain, increase risk to victims and
rescuers requiring special precautions. The initial emergency response to a
reported Swift Water Rescue will be a Box Alarm assignment. Additionally the
response will include (1) Chief Officer, Rescue-182 with a Boat, an Engine or
Truck company and ETMC.
d. The nature of many water rescue evolutions is very similar in necessary resource
requirements to that of High Angle Rescue Team capabilities, Therefore, the
High Angle Rescue Team should always be dispatched in the event that
technical support is needed. Early recognition of situations that may require the
High Angle Rescue Team should be of prime concern to the Incident
Commander (IC) so that the necessary resources are dispatched in a timely
2. Underwater Recovery Shall be done by the EDUCT Dive Team; Waxahachie Fire
Rescue. (TFCA BP 4.06)
a. Underwater recovery requests will be accepted only from the person or agency
in charge of the existing operation.
b. Response Procedures:
1) Initial dispatch will be a Chief, the Water Rescue Team, and one other
company, for a total of two (2) companies. These members will be
dispatched non-emergency.
2) If the IC determines that a recovery operation is warranted, he will so
notify Dispatch to what equipment is needed. Waxahachie Fire Rescue
shall be contacted. Waxahachie Fire Rescue provides Dive
Rescue/Recovery for the 12 Cities in E.D.U.C.T. (TFCA BP 4.06)
3) The IC will disregard or clear the Water Rescue Team as soon as it is
determined that their specialized skills are not required at an incident.
D. Control (TFCA BP 4.05)
1. The IC will remain at the scene during boat operations and will be in charge of
the overall incident within the city. The ranking Water Rescue Team member will
be the IC or act as a direct advisor to the IC at an incident and will take charge of
the Water Rescue Team. The special nature of the Water Rescue Team
capabilities makes the advice and strategy offered by the individual in charge of
the Water Rescue Team especially valuable to the IC. However, the IC has the
overall responsibility for the operational aspects of the incident as well as safety.
2. Within the jurisdiction of another agency, the ROFR Chief will coordinate
personnel in a cooperative effort with the other operating units to assure
maximum safety and effectiveness.
3. The IC will notify Dispatch when relief is needed for operating personnel.
Dispatch will designate the engine or truck companies to relieve the boat crews.
The IC will check with the Senior Water Rescue Team member to determine if
and when relief crews are needed.
E. Emergency Operations
1. A rapid scene size-up will be made and requests for additional resources
promptly ordered by the IC to meet the needs of rapidly changing situations.
Important considerations include:
a. Condition and location of victim(s) at this time or when last seen.
b. Location or probable location of victim(s) when resources can be deployed.
c. Resources required to effect rescue.
2. The Incident Command System should rapidly be initiated with Operations and
Logistics Sections assigned as a minimum.
3. The Operations Section will be set up and assign Search and Rescue, Medical,
and Safety Groups.
a. Search and Rescue Group Procedures:
1) The first arriving unit will become a Search Team, establish Incident
Command, and attempt to locate and account for all victims.
2) Upon locating victim(s) still in need of rescue, a Rescue Team will be
requested and rescue operations will be initiated.
3) Upon arrival of the Rescue Team, the Search Team will continue their
search or assist the Rescue Team as the IC sees necessary.
4) If conditions are such that a victim may be washed downstream faster
than the Search Team can travel, a Hasty Team will be assigned well
downstream to a location where resources can be staged prior to the
arrival of the victim.
5) Additional Search Teams will be assigned as quickly as conditions allow,
moving on both sides of the stream where possible from the last known
location of the victim to the Hasty Team. To the extent that their training
and conditions allow, these Search Teams will conduct a thorough search
of each bank, checking in and around trees and debris piles for victims.
6) The Swift Water Rescue Team will set up and conduct rescue operations.
The Swift Water Rescue Team will perform the rescue operations. When
possible, personnel trained as Advanced Swift Water Rescue Technicians
will perform rescue evolutions assisted by personnel trained as Swift
Water Rescue Technician 1.
7) The order of water rescue from low risk to high risk will be:
a. TALK: Talk the victim into self-rescue. If possible, the victim can be
talked into swimming to shore or assisting the rescuers with his/her
own rescue. If a victim is stranded in the middle of a flash flood, this
will not be prudent.
b. REACH: If possible, the rescuer should extend his/her hand or
some other object, such as a pike pole, to remove the victim from
the water.
c. THROW: If the victim is too far out in the water to reach, rescuer(s)
should attempt to throw the victim a throw bag or some piece of
positive flotation (i.e., PFD, rescue ring). Downstream personnel
should be in position during the actual rescue operation. If the
victim is able to grab the throw bag, the rescuer can pendulum
belay or haul the victim to the nearest bank. Care should be taken
to assure the victim will be belayed to a safe downstream position.
First responders that have had operational level water
rescue training should be able to conduct the above rescues
without the help of the ROFR Technical Rescue Team
(T.R.T). If the victim cannot be reached by either of these
methods, Command should consider stopping the operation
until units of the T.R.T. arrive. If the operation becomes a
high risk one, Command will want the equipment and
experience of the T.R.T. After the Technical Rescue Team
arrives, Command should discuss with them the action plan.
Command should consider re-assigning the Extrication
Group to a company officer from the T.R.T.
d. ROW: If it is determined that a boat based operation shall be run,
Command should assign a company on the opposite bank to assist
the Extrication Group in establishing an anchor for a rope system.
The company on the opposite bank will be made aware of the
action plan. The Extrication Group will be responsible for seeing
that the rope system used for the boat based operation is built safe
and proper. A minimum of 2 point tether should be built for swiftwater operations. Extrication should consider personal protective
equipment (PPE) for victim(s).
e. GO: If it is not possible to ROW (boat base operation) to the victim,
the Extrication Group should consider putting a rescuer in the water
to reach the victim. This is a very high risk operation. Only rescuers
with the proper training and equipment should be allowed to enter
the water. Prior to the rescuer actually proceeding into the water,
he/she shall discuss the action plan, including specific tasks and
objectives, hazards and alternate plans. The rescuer shall never be
attached to a life line without the benefit of a quick release
mechanism. The rescuer should take PPE of at least a PFD to the
f. HELO: At times the use of a helicopter is the most reasonable
method of reaching the victim. Helicopter operations over water
are considered high risk operations. Command should consult with
Extrication and the pilot to determine the risk/benefit of the use of a
helo. If the pilot says he/she can do the operation, Command
should consider it. Extrication should assign rescuers to the
helicopter and discuss with the pilot and the rescuers the specific
action plan. Extrication or his /her designee should address the
weight and balance considerations. Command will have the final
say on the use of a helicopter for water rescue operations. The pilot
will have the final say on how the helicopter will be used.
8) The Search and Rescue Group will be terminated when all victims are
accounted for or on the orders of the IC.
b. Medical Group Procedures:
1) The first responding ETMC will establish the Medical Group with the ETMC
Medic acting as the Medical Group Officer.
2) The Medical Group Officer will provide the Operations Section Commander with
an EMS size-up and resource request as soon as possible.
3) If conditions warrant, the Medical Group Officer will then prepare and establish
c. Safety Group Procedures:
1) The IC shall be responsible for initiating the Safety Group, which is responsible
for overall scene and operational safety, recognizing actual and potential
2) A priority assignment is to insure that all members within ten (10) feet of water
are wearing personal flotation devices. (TFCA BP 4.05)
3) The second priority is to assign an Upstream Spotter 50-100 yards upstream
from the rescue site to alert rescuers downstream of floating objects that can
hinder a rescue or endanger personnel.
4) Downstream Safety(s) shall be assigned below the rescue site to assist in
contact rescue of victims or rescuers swept downstream. The Downstream
Safety(s) should be equipped with a minimum of two (2) throw bags for rescue.
5) Upon notification or recognition of imminent danger to victims or personnel, the
Safety Group Officer shall notify the Operations Section Commander who may
suspend operations until the danger it mitigated.
4. Logistics Section Procedures:
a. Set up and maintain a Staging Area for equipment and personnel.
b. Procure, prepare and deliver for use equipment such as boats, additional
personal flotation devices, ropes, pulleys, carabiners, and other equipment
necessary to deploy rescue systems.
c. The IC will assign a Logistics Section Commander.
F. Training and Certification (TFCA BP 4.05)
1. The Assistant Chief/Training Coordinator will be responsible for assuring that the
Water Rescue Team members under their command are trained in water rescue
skills. The Captains will conduct schools as necessary to maintain proficiency in
water rescue skills. They will insure that all members under their command
participate in scheduled training.
2. All members assigned to the Water Rescue Team shall complete the Red Oak
Fire Rescue (ROFR) water rescue curriculum within the first year of assignment.
Furthermore, these members shall receive initial training from a National Fire
Protection (NFPA 1670) based course (SRTI) as soon as possible.
3. An annual record of individual skills-maintenance training will be maintained on
the Water Rescue Team Multi-Year Individual Skills Check List (ROFR Form 88).
This record will serve as certification of a member's continued competency in the
critical skill areas.
4. When a member who is not assigned to the Water Rescue Team is detailed to
work at Station-182, the Captain will see that the member is made familiar with
the Water Rescue Team equipment and procedures and prepare the member for
a support role in Water Rescue Team activities.
5. The Assistant Chief/Training Coordinator will coordinate continuing education
training for Water Rescue Team members. Continuing education class will focus
a. New skills, techniques, procedures, and equipment that will be used by
Water Rescue Team members.
b. Simulations designed to review standard procedures and practices and
develop practical application of Water Rescue Team skills.
c. Water Rescue Team training will be provided as needed to maintain
trained personnel at Station-182 as well as additional personnel for water
rescue at other locations in the Fire Department. The Captain responsible
for coordinating Water Rescue Team training and the Assistant Chief will
jointly make the determination of the need for additional Water Rescue
Team training,
d. Training will be maintained by compliance with the standards set forth by
this procedure. The Training Coordinator will maintain these requirements
and a copy will be given to each Water Rescue Team member.
G. General Safety TFCA BP 4.05
1. Water Rescue Team members will exercise every safety precaution afford the
highest degree of safety to themselves and victims that proportionate with the
particular hazard situation in which they operating. Rescue priorities are:
a. Self
b. Fellow teammates
c. Victims
2. The Safety Group Officer at all incidents involving water should be trained to
recognize the additional hazards associated with water-related activities. As a
minimum, the Incident Commander should insure the member appointed Safety
Group Officer has been trained in Red Oak Fire Rescue Water Rescue
3. Personal Protective Equipment TFCA BP 4.05
a. A Personal Flotation Device will be worn by each member coming within ten
(10) feet of the edge of the water, regardless of rank or assignment.
b. All Fire Department members operating as part of the Water Rescue Team
shall wear an approved helmet for this of rescue. Fire helmets have no drain
holes for water to pass through. Therefore, they will not be used.
c. Gloves will also be worn by all members actively involved in rescue
d. All other protective clothing and equipment will be utilized as deemed
necessary by the IC, the Operations Section Commander, or the Safety
Group Officer.
4. Never secure a rope to a rescuer. The exception to this rule is when a Water
Rescue Team member uses a "Live Bait" type rescue jacket.
H. Equipment Care TFCA BP 4.05
1. Each Water Rescue Team member will exercise the highest degree of care in the
storage, handling and use of Water Rescue Team equipment to assure its
longest life, strength, and integrity.
2. Ropes and webbing will be cleaned and dried as needed and will be dry and free
of oils, rust and other contaminants.
3. Station-182 Captains will assure that Water Rescue Team equipment is
inspected on the first Tuesday of each month for defects and damage, and that
accurate records of all inspections are maintained. Completion of the Water
Rescue-182 Inventory Form will serve as documentation of this inspection.
Additionally, equipment will be inspected and a Water Rescue Team Inventory
Report Form completed after any use (i.e. training, practice, and actual rescue
4. Damaged or defective equipment will be removed from service until qualified
personnel can make repairs or the item is replaced.
a. When any rope is used in a rescue incident effort, that rope will be
immediately removed from service until a TRT Captain has inspected the
rope and given approval for its return to service.
b. Equipment constructed of metal (carabiners, figure-eight descenders,
rescucenders, etc.) will be inspected for fractures, cracks or defects by being
X-rayed if they have been dropped over three (3) feet. They will remain out of
service until this X-ray is completed.
5. The Water Rescue Team Captains will see that training ropes are used only as
training tools and that dedicated emergency ropes are used only for emergencies
except for throw bag ropes. Throw bag ropes may be used for training but must
be inspected by the Company Officer prior to returning it to service.
I. Decontamination of Equipment and Personnel TFCA BP 4.05
The following are the recommended decontamination (decon) procedures for resources
assigned to water rescue operations. Any resources exposed to flood waters or bodies
of water with known or suspected contaminants should complete the appropriate level
of decon. Consider consultation with the Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) Team
personnel if deemed appropriate for the situation.
1. Basic Decon
a. Personnel: After completing assignments in flood waters or natural
waterways, all affected members must wash their hands and face with clean
water and soap. All members should be required to wash hands before
entering vehicles and eating areas, Hand washing is necessary to reduce
secondary contamination. This includes any member who has handled any
equipment that was in contact with the water (i.e. ropes, boats, etc.).
b. Equipment: When the team's operational assignment is completed,
equipment should be rinsed with clean water. Visible contaminates, mud, and
light oils should be removed with soap.
2. Level I Decon
Level 1 Decon procedures should be used in areas where there is potential for
exposure to general contaminates and the water is standing or moving slowly.
Examples of areas where the use of this level of decon is needed would be residential
and agricultural areas where there is no evidence of large releases of Haz-Mat.
a. Personnel: After completing assignments in floodwaters, all affected members
must wash their hands and face with clean water and anti-microbial soap (i.e.
Vionex or Phisohex). All members should wash their hands before entering
vehicles or eating areas. On completion of the day's operations, all members
exposed to suspected or known contaminated water should shower and
change into clean clothes.
b. Equipment: When the team's operational assignment is completed,
equipment should be washed with soap and water. This decon should be
completed as soon as possible following the operations. Dry suits should also
be washed before entering vehicles for trips from one work site to another.
3. Level 2 Decon
Level 2 Decon procedures should be used any time Haz-Mat is identified or likely to be
present. This includes areas of sewage contamination as well as agricultural and
chemical contamination. These areas should not be entered if at all possible. Limiting
the number of personnel exposed to the water should be the top priority of the IC and
the ranking Water Rescue Team member on scene. Support for decon should be
arranged before units are committed to the contaminated area. Water samples should
be taken for testing from areas entered by the team. The IC and 520 should be notified
if any personnel require this level of decon. All personnel should have a one (1) hour,
twelve (12) hour, and a twenty-four (24) hour medical check following their exposure.
a. Personnel: After exiting the water, even for short periods during the rescue
operations, members should go through a scrub Gross Decon Wash with
soap and clean water (see #4 below). Remove gloves and wash hands and
face with clean water and antimicrobial soap. At the end of the operations,
member should go through a Gross Decon Wash with soap and clean water
before any safety gear is removed. Wash hands and face with clean water
and anti-microbial soap after removing all safety gear. Shower using antimicrobial soap before leaving the scene if possible or as soon as possible
thereafter and change into clean clothes.
b. Equipment: All equipment should be sprayed with a l:10 bleach solution or
other agents (as recommended by on scene Haz-Mat Team personnel) and
allowed to stand a minimum of fifteen (15) minutes. Thoroughly rinse all
treated equipment with clean water and allow to dry before storing with other
equipment. Bag any equipment that cannot be dried for the return trip to the
station' Wipe with a l:10 bleach solution any surfaces inside vehicles that
might have come in contact with wet safety equipment during the rescue
operation. Units requiring Level 2 Decon should be taken out of service until
all equipment has been cleaned and dried.
4. Gross Decon Wash
This is a two-stage process that is set up along a decon corridor' All run off solutions
are retained for proper disposal. Personnel charged with establishing the conidor
should be protected by splash gear. It is recommended that Haz-Mat Team
personnel be requested to implement this procedure.
a. Stage 1: Rescuer in safety gear is scrubbed with brushes using a clean water
and soap solution. Any contaminated tools, equipment or ropes are left behind
here for cleaning.
b. Stage 2: Rescuer is rinsed with clean water.
J. Use of Personal Equipment
No personal equipment may be used unless approval has been obtained in writing from
the Fire Chief.
K. Administrative Procedures and Documentation of Team Activities
1. Station-182 Captains will document Water Rescue Training in two (2) ways:
a. All training for the year will be recorded on Water Rescue training will be
recorded in FireHouse software.
b. The successful completion of competency-based refresher training on critical
skills will be recorded and maintained at the Station-181 in the individual's
personal history file.
2. Station-182 Captains will document the monthly inspection of Water Rescue
Team equipment on the R-182 Inventory Form (ROFR inspection reports will be
maintained in a file at Station-182)