Swift Water Rescue Crews Save Six Stranded People

Swift Water Rescue Crews Save Six Stranded People

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VICTORVILLE, Calif. – San Bernardino County Fire was able to successfully rescue six people who were trapped in the quickly swelling flood waters of the Mojave river bottom.

On Thursday, February 14, 2019, San Bernardino County Fire responded to two swift water rescues; one near Eva Dell Park and the other north of the Cemex Cement Plant in the City of Victorville. Numerous calls reporting that individuals were trapped by rising flood waters.

The first of the two incidents was reported at 5:40 p.m. involved an adult male who was unable to get out of an area of vegetation surrounded by rising flood waters. The area of the incident was described as being off of the Levee Road near Eva Dell Park, near E Street. When the swift-water crew arrived a victim was located on a small buildup of branches and trees. The vegetation was surrounded by a moderate flow of flood water. The water appeared to be deep, so a wade-in rescue was not a safe option. Spotters were placed up and downstream to watch for debris, in case the victim ended up in the water. A San Bernardino County helicopter responded to the scene to determine if a hoist rescue was a viable option. “40 King inserted their diver on a line where the victim was then contacted,” said San Bernardino County Spokesman Captain Jeremy Kern. “He was secured with the diver and then both were moved over to awaiting firefighters and paramedics. Once evaluated the adult male was transported by ground to a local hospital.” The rescue operation was complete by 6:23 p.m. Three additional subjects were contacted and rescued by sheriff’s aviation.

The second rescue occurred at 7:15 p.m. and was similar to the first but access was difficult. Heavy vegetation including trees and other overgrowths were in the victim’s location making contact difficult.  The location was north of the Cemex Cement Plant. Information provided to dispatchers was vague slowing the rescue efforts. ‘After ground crews searched each side of the Mojave river north of the 15 two victims were eventually located,”said San Bernardino County Spokesman Captain Jeremy Kern. “ Access was limited to 4 wheel drive only. Fire apparatus was staged and crews made their way to the river’s edge.” Again, SBSD Aviation was requested. Similar to the first operation a long line with a sheriff rescue diver was flown in to make contact. Heavy vegetation and a significant tree canopy complicated efforts. Multiple efforts were made by 40K. Ultimately one subject was extracted by the sheriff’s helo.

The second subject would not go with the diver without his dog. Additional resources began to arrive from surrounding divisions. A secondary plan was developed to employ firefighters and a rescue boat in the water to remove the subject and his dog from the flood waters. Firefighters were able to negotiate the inconsistent shoreline and debris in a rescue boat where they made contact and secured the final victim and his dog. He was safely extracted to dry ground where he was then evaluated by paramedics. The final rescue was complete at 11:55.

In all 6 victims were rescued by firefighters and deputies. No firefighters were injured during the rescue.

When heavy rain has been forecast – or when heavy, steady rain is falling – monitor the news, websites and social media sites for updated weather conditions. The phrasing meteorologists use is important; a Flood Watch means flooding is possible in your area, Flood Warning means flooding in your area is already occurring or is imminent, and Flash Flood is sudden violent flooding. Flash floods often come up quickly during heavy rain.

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Image Sources:

  • Swift water rescue: SB County Fire dept.
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