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First responder training and testing doesn’t stop for a pandemic. Just as our lifeguards continuously train to keep their rescue skills sharp, Dallas Fire-Rescue's Swiftwater Technicians must do the same. For DFR, there’s the added challenge of finding a location open, able and willing to host necessary water skills testing for DFR’s Swiftwater Team, especially in the middle of a pandemic. In November and December DFR is teaming up with the Park and Recreation Department at Bachman Indoor Pool to get the job done! Members of DFR will be completing required swimming and treading tests under the watchful eye of Dallas Aquatics lifeguards and following all COVID-19 safety protocols.
While our lifeguards may be the first responders in the city's aquatic facilities, the DFR Swiftwater team is the one to respond to approximately 100 water rescue calls each year. Those calls are a mix of high water calls, boat rescues, and swiftwater rescues. DFR currently has 90 trained Swiftwater Technicians. This includes members at the two Swiftwater Stations: Fire Station 34 in Pleasant Grove, and Fire Station 30 in Northwest Dallas, as well as members that may be assigned to other fire stations and are able to be used to staff 30 and 34 as needed. Swiftwater 30 has 6 swiftwater technicians on duty every day and Swiftwater 34 has 10 swiftwater technicians on duty every day. Each station has both motorized inflatable rescue boats as well as a whitewater raft.
In addition, 18 members of the team are part of the elite Texas Task Force 1 Water Rescue Team, which is a state team that deploys on large scale weather events and hurricanes in the state. This year alone members deployed to Hurricane Hanna, Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Marco, and Hurricane Beta.
Every member of the team is certified as a Swiftwater Rescue Technician and a Rope Rescue Technician. Both of those certifications are very demanding 40 hour courses that also require an 8 hour refresher each year. Every member also has to have a minimum of 20 hours of Continuing Education training in swiftwater well as pass a swim test. All members of the team also get certified as Boat Operators with some certified as Swiftwater Boat Operators, a very highly skilled certification.
Here at the City of Dallas we are one big team, and our aquatics staff have enjoyed the opportunity to work with DFR as they complete their swim testing. We may be in the middle of a pandemic, but we are all working together to ensure that essential services can still carry on uninterrupted, and safely!