The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 18, 2013

Swift water rescue training

TFD gets prepared in Tar River


TARBORO — It's a rare occasion when the Tarboro Fire Department mixes business with pleasure.

Wednesday was one of those days.

For about two hours, selected members of the department made the Tar River their swimming pool. Some dived into the murky brown water and at times they raced a short distance. That was the fun part. The business aspect — they were there for Swift Water Training.

Nineteen firefighters participated in the training including Chief Frankie Winslow.

"We have A shift and B shift, therefore it's not often that we get together as one group," Winslow said. "When we do, everybody has a good time, but we don't lose sight of why we're together."

The training included the firefighters floating up stream about 100 yards and water rescues. Last year, the department held its swift water training in the Community Pool. Only the nine-member swift water team member participated. This year the entire department, including those who were on duty, played a part in the session.

"The river is the more ideal situation that we will likely be involved in if we're  to be called out," Winslow said. "The swimming pool is not realistic."

The Tarboro Fire Department started its swift water rescue team after Hurricane Floyd's floodwaters caused catastrophic damage in Tarboro and throughout the county in September 1999. Firefighters, police officers and volunteers throughout the county made daring rescues in rushing water that covered a vast portion of the county and region.  

Since then, the team has endured extensive regional training in the mountains. There, too, the firefighters said the training was fun, but serious.

Lt. David Sessoms, a member of the team said, "It's fun trainin,g but it is important." The veteran said one of the reasons for Wednesday's training was for the "new members" of the department.