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Weber County firefighters hone their skills for swift-water rescues

SHARE Weber County firefighters hone their skills for swift-water rescues

Members of the Weber Fire District participate in swift-water training at Fort Buenaventura Park in Ogden on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. They will be training over the next few days.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Utah’s drought has left water levels in streams and rivers across the state fairly low, but that could change day to day.

That’s why firefighters in Weber County are training this week for swift-water rescues on the Weber River as they prepare for the spring and summer months ahead.

And firefighters say a river that looks calm and inviting can be completely different downstream.

“You look at something like this, and this is a slow-moving water, but as you get in some of the areas where it’s a little deeper and a little more turbulent, the power of that hydraulics will just move you around whether you like it or not,” Riverdale Fire Capt. Matt Hennessy said of the Weber River.

Hennessy noted the training is particularly necessary so that the departments in the area can make sure “we all operate the same way.”

“Every year, we get calls to the river. Doesn’t matter if it’s a lot of runoff or not very much, people get stuck, they get stranded, and it’s unpredictable,” said Weber Fire District Capt. Chris Whetton. 

In addition, Whetton said the temperature of the water can be deceiving as well. “So you may think, ‘Oh it’s really good. It’s a hot day and the water’s going to be warm,’ and it’s actually cold and will take your breath away.”

He also suggested if anyone is going to get in the water to be with somebody else, and wear a life vest.