Lives saved: Tucson-area fire crews called out for swift-water rescues during monsoon

Lives saved: Tucson-area fire crews called out for swift-water rescues during monsoon
Rural/Metro rescues stranded motorist at River Road east of Pontatoc.

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Monsoon 2018 is officially over and Tucson News Now is getting a look at just how many times first responders had to perform swift-water rescues, in effect saving lives.

The Tucson Fire Department performed the most swift-water rescues during the past monsoon. TFD crews rescued eight people in five swift-water rescues. The most notable was one in which a man was found clinging to a tree. The Avra Valley Fire Department performed two swift-water rescues in which they rescued two people.

The Rural/Metro Fire Department is the only department that had a rescue operation end with a fatality.

“These people who get injured, who get trapped, who die in these rescues, they all are not planning on getting trapped. They believe they’ll get through that. They believe their vehicle is big enough, is steady enough to get through these washes. But most of the time it just isn’t,” Rural/Metro Chief John Walka said.

Walka says the tail end of Monsoon 2018 was a tough one for Rural/Metro. Soil saturation in certain areas made things tough because it meant that storm runoff flowed quickly and with a lot of power.

“The more water there is out there and the more people don’t obey the barricades the tougher it is for us to try to go in there and rescue them,” Walka said.

Even though the monsoon has come to an end, Walka urges people to be mindful of the dangers of monsoon and to think twice.

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