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News | Jan. 25, 2014

612th Air Base Squadron firefighters train for underwater rescues

By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stacy Rogers 612th Air Base Squadron

Firefighters from Joint Task Force Bravo's 612th Air Base Squadron conducted underwater rescue training at the Soto Cano Air Base swimming pool, Jan. 24, 2014.

"Training in the pool allows us to train on different rope rescues and flotation devices as well as work on communication skills in the water, communicating with victims as well as with each other," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Aaron Bunyea, Deputy Fire Chief.

During the training, the firefighters learned it is much more difficult to communicate underwater and had to adapt to the situation, relying on hand signals rather than speaking.

The firefighters practiced loading a patient with a spinal injury onto a backboard while in the water. They also trained on body recovery, using their breathing apparatus to provide an air supply while underwater for an extended period of time. According to U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Robert Smith, Fire Chief, the procedures used were the same as those that would be utilized for fall or vehicle accident, but with the added difficulty of conducting the operation in water.

"This type of training is crucial to the firefighters here at Soto Cano, especially with the number of rivers and the heavy rainfall that is received in this area throughout the year," said Smith. "This training could save someone's life someday."