Oklahoma first responders give an inside look at intense water rescue training

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OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security is training our state’s regional response teams and some local first responders this week.

They’re working on everything from rescues in structural collapses – on ropes and even in rough waters.

The swift water training was held at the Riversport Rapids in Oklahoma City.

“The water is more powerful than you and it’s going to take you where it wants to go,” said Maj. Greg Merrell with the Oklahoma City Fire Department and Task Force 1. “We’re learning the skills to overcome that and read the water so we don’t get the or ourselves in a bad situation.”

It’s tough, but it’s necessary.

“Because obviously in Oklahoma we have a lot of flooding events and so this happens statewide and everyone has to be ready to respond in their local community,” Merrell said.

Oklahoma Task Force One trainees from throughout the state prepare to answer the call here in our state and beyond.

Members have recently been called to help with other national disasters like Hurricane Dorian.

Some Oklahoma City firefighters are also working on their swift water skills.

“It’s about safety for ourselves and the victims,” said Merrell.

They work on defensive swimming.

“They’ve got to be cautious of any kinds of rocks and debris in the water they don’t want to hit,” Merrell said.

They also create rescue scenarios.

“If we can handle this, we can handle pretty much anything else we’re going to face,” said Merrell.

The Riversport Rapids are rougher than most waters they will face but respecting the water is key.

“Some people grow up around the water, and think, hey, I’ve grown up around the lake,” said Merrell. “This is not the lake, this is not lake swimming. We want them to feel that challenge and feel that exhaustion and know what they are gonna face when they get out there.”

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