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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2015 Vol. 62 No. 10

Water Safety and Awareness Education

Jason Dush

Jason Dush, TDEM EMS Manager

No part of Texas is immune from the potential for dangerous flash flooding, and every year public safety providers across Texas are injured in water-related incidents. The Texas Division of Emergency Management’s (TDEM) Life Safety Unit is doing what it can to reduce the risk to and increase the survivability of field responders during these events. This September, TDEM began an agency-wide initiative to improve awareness of the dangers and safety in and around flooding and moving water through education and exposure to the simulated dangerous water situations.

The cold waters of the San Marcos River as it flows through San Marcos

The cold waters of the San Marcos River as it flows through San Marcos, the same river that brought deadly flash flooding in Central Texas in May 2015.

The water safety courses begin with basic terminology, communication and understanding the flow of water. After students learn to understand the environment around the water, they are exposed to the elements and provided practical training. Each student is fitted with correct personal protective equipment and practice hands-on survival skills for a few hours in flowing water simulations.

The most recent course was taught in the San Marcos River in San Marcos, Texas, where to students were able to experience the power of swiftly moving water. During the training each student practiced water safety skills, such as safe exit techniques, defensive swim positions as well as ferry angles in moving water. Each task focused on increasing personal safety and awareness of the hazards involved with water emergencies. Below are some photos from training held September 10, 2015 in San Marcos.

First four pictures below, clockwise from upper left: Lynn Burttschell, TDEM Life Safety Manager, going over safety issues and demonstrating signals; Chief Nim Kidd in safety equipment, ready to get in the cold water.

Lynn  Burttschell going over safety issues and  demonstrating signals
Lynn  Burttschell going over safety issues and  demonstrating signals
Chief Nim Kidd in safety equipment, ready to get in the  cold water
Lynn  Burttschell going over safety issues and  demonstrating signals


Next six pictures below, clockwise from upper left:
Training staff demonstrating how to get out of the water with the equipment; district coordinators getting used to the cold water; demonstrating positioning for going through rapid water; District Coordinator John O’Valle going through the chute; Regional Coordinator, Marty Penney catching the rope; District Coordinator, Martin Widtfeldt being pulled to safety.

Training staff demonstrating how to get out of the water with the  equipment
District coordinators getting used to the cold water; demonstrating  positioning for going through rapid water
District Coordinator John O’Valle going through the chute
Some of the damage remaining after the May 2015 massive flooding
District Coordinator, Martin Widtfeldt being pulled to safety
Regional Coordinator, Marty Penney catching the rope
 


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