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Dozens Of First Responders Train In OKC For Flooding Season

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

We're entering storm season and that includes the risk for flooding. Dozens of responders from around the country came to Oklahoma City to brush up on how to rescue people from fast moving water.

Around 80 firefighter and police officers from as far away as Canada trained at the RIVERSPORTS Rapids downtown this weekend. They say the reason is because the water is as close to the real deal as they can get.

“It's a very dangerous part of our job,” said Tyler Butts, a firefighter from the Overland Park, Kansas Fire Department.

Butts is here with four others from his department to do training he says they don't get to practice often.

“People get trapped in their cars and we might have to go rescue them or they become stranded,” he said.

Swift water rescue is considered one the most difficult and dangerous types of rescues. In 2017, RIVERSPORT Rapids hosted 15 Swiftwater training sessions.

“Just a good training site, nobody can come experience this type of water anywhere else,” said Brian Weatherford with Mid America Rescue Company.

The Oklahoma company set up several rescue scenarios along the RIVERSPORTS Rapids channel.

The facility is located in the Boathouse District and pumps 492,000 gallons of water per minute, which can help replicate any emergency these responders could encounter.

“We have a ladder truck over here where they can do rescues from a ladder, we have pinned victims up at the top, we have a simulated car so they can practice rescuing someone from a car,” said Weatherford. “We have swimming exercises, we have rope exercises.”

The responders rotated from one situation to the next to either lean a new skill or sharpen it.

“It is very similar and we can have very fast moving waters here in the Midwest, it often takes place in a creek or a river,” said Butts. “There are very few places across the country that offers this level of training.”

And the colder weather only made the training that more challenging.

“That's reality we could be facing that, high water just doesn't happen in the dead of summer it also sometimes happens in the winter as well,” Butts added.

This was the first year for the conference but the company plans to hold it again next year.

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