Canal rescues dangerous for rescue crews

The Phoenix Fire Department discusses the dangers and hazards of rescues that involve moving water.

PHOENIX- With 130 miles of canals around the Valley, some with no barriers, the danger of falling in is a constant concern.

If you do fall in, getting out is not easy.

"If you can get to the side, get to the side. Put your feet down and see if you can stand up," Reda Bigler from Phoenix Fire Department said. "If you are in fast moving water and you start moving towards the gates, your best bet is to swim upstream and of course scream and call for help."

When it comes to rescuing someone from a canal, not only is it dangerous for the person in the water, but that danger also applies to the rescue crew.

"There's a lot of debris that can cut you, you can then get a bacterial infection. You also don't know the depth of the water and it looks like it's not moving, but once you get closer to the gates and bridges, it picks up speed. There are so many unknown hazards," Bigler said.

Those unknown hazards are why jumping in the water is a last resort for rescue crews.

"We will never just jump in. We take the necessary steps first like putting on flotation devices, we will attempt to reach them, we will throw them a barrier device to put on and float," Bigler said. "A lot of steps are taken before we jump in the water."

The same crews that respond to mountain rescues respond to water rescues, and it takes a whole team just to help one person.

"Approximately 30 firefighters and about six to seven pieces of apparatus will be needed for a water rescue," Bigler said.

Just another reminder to stay away from the edge and never attempt to swim in a canal. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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