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Special Operations — Rescue Swimmer
Every year firefighters throughout Snohomish County respond to water related rescue calls such as missing person(s) in lake swim areas, capsized boats, vehicles into the water and other water related incidents. Fire District 7 members and chiefs wanted to be proactive and have better capabilities to deal with these types of calls. The Fire District 7 Rescue Swimmer Team was established in 2013 to provide this service for our citizens.
In the past, Fire District 7 firefighters were limited to shore based rescue operations such as rope throw bags or surface rescues only. We lacked any subsurface capability for rescue situations. With the new PADI Rescue Swimmer certification, firefighters are now able to perform to a much higher level of service.
Fire District 7 Rescue Swimmers do not have SCUBA equipment or the training to operate underwater for prolong periods of time.
In an effort to have a minimum of two trained employees on duty 24/7, Fire District 7 has certified rescue swimmers on each shift. Once on scene of an incident, a rescue swimmer can enter the water within seconds to make rescues.
We have researched and compiled depth, GIS maps, temperature and other rescue specific information for popular area waters.
Initial training consists of a four day certification class where students learn various skills in water rescue. Members must pass each section of this challenging course which includes minimum breath holding of 60 seconds, freedives 40' deep, long distance swims, and scenario based rescue situations. Continuing education requires eight hours of ongoing hands on training and an annual swim evaluation.
Special Operations — Swiftwater Rescue
Snohomish County Fire District 7 has three major rivers within its borders, the Skykomish, Snohomish and Snoqualmie. These three rivers bring people from across the region for recreation and sport. Fire District 7 responds to emergencies on all of these rivers. In addition to responding within our borders, Fire District 7 responds to all of our neighboring fire departments when needed, anytime of the year. Flooding on the rivers also provides an additional challenge that Fire District 7's personnel are trained to handle. The extent and variety of rescue possibilities make it important that Fire District 7 train and equip a strong team of Swiftwater Rescue personnel.
Fire District 7 currently has 37 members trained as Swiftwater Rescue technicians. These members complete a physically demanding 30 hour course taught by our own certified instructors. These members also complete annual training to hone the knowledge and skills they learn. Fire District 7 has two jet boats designed for the use in the shallow environment of the river as well as the specialized equipment to conduct rope and rescuer based rescues on the river.
Fire District 7 is looking forward in advancing the rope skills and capabilities. Currently, for a complicated rope rescue on the river our Swiftwater Rescue Technicians could work with the Snohomish County Technical Rescue Team.
Swiftwater Rescue personnel from Fire District 7 routinely respond to emergencies from the City of Snohomish to Index and to larger scale events such as the Oso mudslide.