Preparing for monsoon rescues before the monsoon arrives

First responders hope they won’t need the training, but are getting prepared
Published: Jun. 13, 2023 at 5:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Southern Arizona rescue teams were taking advantage of training before the monsoon rolls in. Even in the desert, water can get so deep that teams need a boat for some rescues, which is what the Tucson Fire Department and other agencies from across southern Arizona trained for Tuesday.

It was a great pool day at the Pascua Yaqui Wellness Center on the west side of Tucson.

“We’re enjoying this, this is a good day,” said Tucson Fire Department Captain Michael Schierling.

But the Southern Arizona Regional Technical Rescue Group was actually working.

“We train, really, so that it’s not hard in the moment,” Captain Schierling said.

He taught about 30 firefighters from as far away as Nogales. Members of Avra Valley, Northwest and Golder Ranch fire districts also participated.

“Hazardous emergencies don’t see boundaries. And so, we’re here to help each other and to help everyone else,” Schierling said.

“I think the more exposure you get with these kinds of things and working with the other agencies is important, we kind of just learn to work with each other, and then we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Golder Ranch Fire District Paramedic Dominic Rhodes, who has been in technical rescue for seven years.

“I learn just as much teaching as when I was in the class, if not more,” he said.

The class moved to Kennedy Park Lake, where students then put what they learned in the pool to action in a more realistic situation.

“I believe it’s very important due to the fact that we do get people from down south that come in the wash when it’s monsoon season, so it’s something that we see on a regular basis there in the city of Nogales,” said Nogales Fire Department Battalion Chief Fernando Urias.

“Training like this helps keep everybody safe and ultimately, though, what’s going to keep everybody safe is to not go into those areas when you see the barricades up,” Captain Schierling said.

They will also train on the Salt River for a more swift water rescue experience.

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