With the hot summer months upon Beaufort County and anticipated increases in emergency calls on, in, or around the water, Burton firefighters recently conducted their annual water survival training to sharpen skills and confidence should they wind up in the water themselves.
In 2018, in addition to medical emergencies occurring on or near waterways, the Burton Fire District responded to five emergencies involving watercraft between the months of June and August.
Also, in September of 2018, Burton firefighters had to be transported in full gear via boats while assisting in extinguishing a fire on Little Barnwell Island that was caused by the crash of an F-35 from MCAS Beaufort.
While rescuing others, or training to rescue others, are a daily occurrences at the Burton Fire District, learning to rescue themselves when things go wrong is also a topic firefighters cover.
“People count on us to be rescuers, but if we become the victim, we’ve just complicated an already dangerous situation,” Burton Fire Chief Harry Rountree said in a release.
Throughout the year Burton firefighters train to self rescue, or rescue one another, should they become lost, trapped, or injured while working in a building fighting a fire. Now during the summer months, with the increased chances of working around water, firefighters are practicing those same self rescue techniques at the Beaufort County PALS pool located near Battery Creek High School.
Training started with classroom instruction covering their firefighting gear and different survival techniques that can be used while wearing full gear in the water, and then was followed up with practical application in the pool.
Firefighters practiced “falling” in the water wearing just firefighter clothing, and then again wearing the clothing plus equipment. Firefighters were also briefly dunked under the water to practice confidence in the buoyancy of the gear.
While this training offers a brief reprieve from continuously training in the heat outside and is enjoyed by all the firefighters, it is just as important as any training that they do.