Training Prepares Cadets for Swiftwater Rescues - 8 News NOW

Training Prepares Cadets for Swiftwater Rescues

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LAUGHLIN, Nev. -- Two people were killed in the Las Vegas valley during the last monsoon season after being washed away by flood waters.

On Tuesday, 28 rookie firefighters learned what it is like to save the lives of those trapped during a flood during a training session on the Colorado River in Laughlin, Nev., about 90 miles south of Las Vegas.

Cadets train in conditions where currents are strong and the water cold to help them prepare for real life situations such as what Las Vegas faced this past summer.

"It's difficult, as you can see," Clark County Fire Department Capt. Tom Ciciliano said. "It's about getting those coils good in your hand for that second throw. You are going to be hurrying and watching that person floating by."

Cadet Jennifer Folkert moved to the valley six years ago and decided to become a firefighter after realizing an office job was not for her.

"It's something I have been wanting to do for a really long time," she said. "It's a rewarding profession."

Folkert is one of two women in the class and said she has no problem in keeping up with her male counterparts, including shaving her hair off, jumping in frigid water and learning how to save lives.

"Everyone is treated the same, everyone is expected to perform at the same level," she said. "There isn't a difference between the guys' workout the girls' workout. We have the same workout and expected to look the same at all time."

The river's swift currents average between six to 12 mph, meaning the force can be between 135 and 500 pounds of force.

"Our drainage ditches in town can gain up 30 mph, so you are not going to overcome that force," Clark County Fire Capt. John Steinbeck said. "You have to learn how to work at a team and through it."

According to the fire department, swift water rescue calls are what they consider low frequency, but high risk. They don't happen all the time, but they do, they are dangerous and difficult.

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