Crews train year-round for water rescues after very wet winter

Crews train year-round for water rescues after very wet winter
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 6:48 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Monsoon 2023 is still a couple of months away, but rescue crews across southern Arizona are already preparing to keep people safe.

Just last week, northern Arizona was hit hard by flooding. In Payson three people were killed after their cars were caught in flood waters.

While the busy time of the year is always during the monsoon, the amount of rain and snow seen has recently has caused water rescues to become a year-round operation.

That’s why crews train all year. Not only on the roads but in washes as well since they can quickly become a danger.

First responders say they need to be prepared to pull people from their cars before they get swept away. Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to stall, and a foot of water is enough to float a car.

While flowing washes can be dangerous during monsoon, experts say snowmelt from the mountains has the same effect.

“That water can move fast but the sand underneath it is very soft so the people that try to cross on foot ... can lose their footing and they can get swept down river very quickly,” Golder Ranch Fire District Paramedic Ryan Ward said. “The other danger is you don’t know how fast that water is going to rise, you could be playing in the wash right now and it might seem calm but the rain could come off the mountains and hills quickly. And that’s where we get out flash floods at.”

You often hear the sayings, “Turn around don’t drown,” and “When in doubt, wait it out,” but sometimes people don’t take it seriously enough. Remember, any kind of running water can quickly turn into a life-or-death situation, so always make sure to stay safe.