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Denison Fire’s water rescue team training in Texoma this summer

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:57 PM CDT
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DENISON, Texas (KXII) -

In the rapid currents at the Denison Dam firefighters with the department’s swift water rescue team are training to save lives.

“If there’s a flash flood, any kind of flood event,” said Harlan Owens, the department’s swift water team leader. “There’s all kinds of situations we respond to. We could get called out to respond to someone trapped in their vehicle because they drove into flood waters or didn’t realize how fast it was rising.”

They’re training three more firefighters for swift water rescue certification to add to their 13 members already on board trained in flash flood and other emergency response.

“We could get called out to respond to someone trapped in their vehicle because they drove into flood waters or didn’t realize how fast it was rising,” Owens said. “It could even be out at Carpenter’s Bluff Bridge, someone didn’t realize the river started generating and they get stuck out there somehow.”

The team usually does their training down in New Braunfels, but this summer they’re preparing right here in Texoma.

Owens said the water from the Denison Dam makes for “a really good current” to train in.

“It’s difficult to find an area that has swift water so it’s really great that we’re able to use this dam right here,” Owens said. “It helps us train for what we could experience in the real world.”

Members of the team are chosen based on seniority in the department, and they have to meet certain qualifications to get certified.

Including being able to swim.

Once certified they join a team they can be used as a task force that responds to statewide or national events.

“We sent guys to Hurricane Harvey whenever it came through,” Owens said. “Now we have a more qualified, certified team that we would be able to send certified people as opposed to just someone who can operate a boat.”

The team trains every three months and one of the big parts of being on the team, Owens said, is overcoming fear of the water.

“That moving water can kind of be scary, standing over the edge and looking at (it). So you have to be able to get over the fear of getting into that moving water and think ‘I can do this',” Owens said.

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