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Search and Rescue crews preparing for the worst

Thursday, May 31, 2012

With triple digit temperatures on the way, law enforcement is preparing for a busy weekend on Valley waterways.

Members of the Fresno County Search and Rescue team spent Thursday doing swift water training. They fear with temperatures on the rise, more people will cool off in rivers and canals, which can pose a significant threat.

The rapids of a East Central Fresno canal became the training ground Thursday for Fresno County's Search and Rescue team.

Half of the team is made up of volunteers. Despite this intense training, all agree: they're still no match against Mother Nature.

Nathan Uebelhart, a Search and Rescue volunteer said, "You think you can just jump in and say oh, I could swim across that. You don't realize the sheer volume and the sheer force, it's mind boggling."

Thursday's class coincides with the upcoming summer season. With temperatures heating up, officials say more and more people will venture out into valley waterways, sometimes not realizing how dangerous they can be.

Sergeant Kathy Curtice said, "The force of that water is enormous, and life jackets are no guarantee." Sergeant Curtice, who oversees search and rescue, expects they'll respond to a number of canal and river rescues.

Sgt. Kathy Curtice said, "It's a draw; it's a natural draw to people. There has not been very much water in the kings river lately, so we're seeing more people in the San Joaquin river."

People like this man, who calls himself, Scuba Steve. He said, "It's hot, I don't have a swimming pool, so I come out here to relax, and it's good clean fun."

Steve says he's seen people struggle in the San Joaquin River, and once saved someone from drowning.

In an effort to prevent that from happening, law enforcement offers this advice:

*don't go in the water, if you can't swim.
*wear a life jacket, if necessary.
*and be aware of your surroundings.

If you do get caught up in some swift water, another tip is to not panic. Search and Rescue suggests people try and lay flat on their backs until they can make their way to the edge.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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fresno county, safety, fresno, local
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