Firefighters fill in as lifeguards in Wildwood
WILDWOOD, N.J. - June 26, 2013 (WPVI) -- When lifeguards go off duty and a swimmer gets in trouble in Wildwood or North Wildwood, it's firefighters who answer the call.
That's why some first responders were on the beach and in the ocean Wednesday honing their water rescue skills.
"It's one thing to know that we have the equipment, but to train with it and get real familiar with it makes a big difference," Darrick Kobierowski of the Wildwood Fire Department said.
Working in teams and using simulated victims in the surf, firefighters were drilling on the different scenarios they might face.
"All the guys have been trained to the awareness operations level, which allows them and gives them the ability and the techniques to go in and do an actual rescue," Captain Dominick McClain of the North Wildwood Fire Department said.
Officials say over the last 20 years, 10 people have drowned in Wildwood alone during the "shoulder season" or when lifeguards go off duty. This training gives first responders a better chance to save lives.
"Especially in September and even October, the water is still very warm so there're a lot of people on the beach and the lifeguards are not on duty so we had to provide service," Captain Daniel Speigel of the Wildwood Fire Department said.
Just recently three firefighters and a police officer rescued a woman who'd fallen off a party boat.
"When you have training and the right tools and the knowledge it comes together and in this case it worked," Gerard Vessels of the Wildwood Fire Departments aid.
They usually handle fires, but if there's a swimmer in trouble this refresher course guarantees these first responders are prepared.
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