1. #1
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    BladesRobinson's Avatar
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    Nov 1999
    Indian River County, Florida

    Default State: Firefighter shouldn't have tried rescue

    State: Firefighter shouldn't have tried rescue
    Friday, June 15, 2007
    Mark Puente
    Plain Dealer Reporter

    A Wellington firefighter who died last June trying to save two teenagers from a swollen river should not have entered the water, a state report says.

    Firefighters should have used an inflatable raft, but the Wellington Fire Department did not have a motor for its vessel, according to an Ohio Department of Natural Resources investigation.

    Al "Buz" Anderson, 47, a volunteer firefighter and a certified swift-water rescuer, entered the bloated Black River near Pitts Road off Ohio 18. He was connected to a safety line, but the current swallowed him.

    A park ranger in a boat saved the teens, who were trapped inside a car on a flooded road.

    Fire Chief Bob Walker asked the state to investigate the rescue. The department released the report this week.

    In the report, investigator James Gorman said the river channel and the tree lines along the road and riverbank caused problems.

    "These natural features leave no room for error without placing rescuers in further hazards," he said in the report.

    The 26-page report also said:

    The department did not conduct regular training with its personnel, and it did not have plans for a water rescue in that area.

    Initial rescuers, including Anderson, were overconfident in their abilities to handle the water and should not have gone in the water without backup.

    Rescuers should have entered the water without a boat only as a last resort.

    Walker said everything went wrong that day. A firefighter was in Michigan picking up a new motor for the boat, he said.

    "It's not an excuse, but a fact," he said. "We have learned from this tragedy."

    The department will use the report to improve procedures, including training more firefighters in swift-water rescues and signing a mutual-aid agreement with Elyria for water rescues, Walker said.

    Anderson is survived by four children and his wife of 20 years, Julie. His family, friends and co-workers will dedicate a plaque at the site in Wellington Township on June 22 at 10 a.m.

  2. #2
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    dday05's Avatar
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    Aug 2005


    On the flip side, if the people didn't make it and the fd didn't attempt a rescue, I would bet there would be a lawsuit against the fd right now.

  3. #3
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    May 2000
    Wheaton IL


    You need to look at several factors before attempting a swift water rescue.
    What is the victim condition? from the video I saw they needed help but not at that second, they had some time and were in a relativly safe location.
    Did the department have enough resources and personnel to accomplish the job. Not really. Was their a plan "B", yes it showed up and did the rescue.
    I don't have all the details nor was I there, but his teather was what killed him, Why didn't it break away? Could it have broken away? Were the responders on land aware that the line will cause the rescuer to go under the water if not handled properly?
    Again from what I heard the rescue was the second attempt when he drowned. In a perfect world he should have realized that plan "A" wasn't working and tried something else.
    My question is what was he going to do once out there? What was the plan for comming back in? Even without the motor I think the boat on a highline could have done the job. If the guys weren't prepared or equipped to do that then they should have waited for back-up to arrive.
    Where were the downstream safetys, were their back up rescuers around to rescue the rescuer, NO. They put all of their eggs in one basket and rolled the dice. This time they got the worst results.
    Swift water isn't something to play around with if not properly trained and equipped. The water will not give you a break.

  4. #4
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    Feb 2004


    Never - never! tie yourself or someone else directly into a "safety Line" in moving water. swift-water requires we have the ability to release the safety rope from either end if the rescuer gets into trouble. Most Swift-water rescue teams use the SRT PFD's with built in quick release harnesses that can be released under presusue.
    Even with these quick release PFD's the shore crew must be ready and able to release the rope in case the rescuer can't. There have been incidents (medical problems & entanglements) that have prevented a self release. If we are going to release a rescuer into the current we have to be sure to have adequate downstream back-up rescuers to assist them.

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