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El Paso Fire Department’s Water Rescue Team prepares for a season that could have a high number in rescue calls

EL PASO, Texas-- The rise in heat also brings up the number of water rescues along the American Canal. In anticipation, the water rescue team held its monthly training session in a strategic spot.

The training location was at the same spot along the canal where the team responded to a double rescue call last week. One person made it out of the water, while the second one wasn't so fortunate.

A captain with the El Paso Fire Department and coordinator of the Water Rescue Team, Kris Menendez, said that compared to the total of 28 incidents reported along the canal last year, this year's number could potentially go higher.

"This year we've had nine here in the city, we've had three in the county involving the canal," Menendez said.

During their training, they run three different drills; the first one they use a water bag attached to a rope which they throw at the simulated victim to pull them to land, another one where they simulate retrieving a victim who gets stuck in the canal waters.

The third drill is called "live-bait"; where instead of a water bag, a Water Rescue Team member is attached to the rope then jumps into the water to grab a hold of the simulated victim and then bring them to safety.

The water these firefighters expose themselves to is not the safest, Menendez told ABC-7 he has witnessed some of his teammates feel nauseous after gulping it and getting earaches or ear infections.

However, Menendez also said they take precautions. There are certain shots they are required to get before jumping in the water and their wear special clothes and equipment to keep them dry and safe.

The Water Rescue Team is comprised of 18 firefighters. This number will increase soon, with the current city administration allowing the team to add three more members to their list.

"The teammates are spread out throughout the city. We have members on the westside, downtown, lower valley and far east side. That allows us to strategically respond to an incident that may occur anywhere on the canal."

Emmanuel Esparza

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4 Comments

  1. Since AP and kvia only gave this a one liner mention, I’ll post it here. Republican Mayra Flores wins election to U.S. House in Texas’ 34th Congressional District.
    We welcome Ms Flores with open arms to the chagrin of alberta and char liar.

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