Swift Water Rescue

It’s summertime in Anne Arundel County, and that means safely enjoying our 533 miles of shoreline - the most of any county in the Country – and staying safe during fast moving summer storms.

We sat down with Anne Arundel County Professional Fire Fighter Bobby Stanton, a member of the Special Operations Division of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.  Stanton has been a Professional Fire Fighter for 16 years, serving the last 10 years in the Special Operations’ Division. 

Water Rescues

Water moving at a speed of 1mph will move a vehicle off the roadway, so remember to always “turn around, don’t drown.”  In training exercises, your Special Operations Professional Fire Fighters train in swift water moving at 6mph.   

Water rescues keep our Professional Fire Fighters busy and are second to only HAZMAT responses in Special Operations’ call volume.  When your Professional Fire Fighters aren’t performing active rescues, you can find them performing training searches by boats and search training in swift water, such as “last point seen” recovery training and search pattern deployment, both leading to faster recovery times. 

Additionally, some of the Professional Fire Fighters are trained as helicopter technicians.  These Professional Fire Fighters deploy all over the state rescuing people off ships in the Bay, whether it’s evacuating an individual off of a large cargo vessel that can’t quickly pull ashore or rescuing someone in distress on the Bay during rough conditions.

Water Rescue Training

Special Operations Professional Fire Fighters are certified in 6 disciplines (open water and swift water rescue, trench rescue, building collapse, defined space rescue, and HAZMAT situations).

After graduating from the Fire Training Academy, Special Operations Fire Fighters begin their additional formal training, which takes a year or more due to the grueling, 800-hour requirements.  The initial class is 60 hours for the swimming portion alone.  Then, they must pass two additional classes – operating an inflatable rescue boat and vehicle rescue in swift water.  For the swift water vehicle rescue class, your Professional Fire Fighters will take a vehicle to an Olympic Kayak Training Facility for simulation. 

After these hurdles, your Special Operations Professional Fire Fighters train at facilities all over the country.  On average, they will attend 1 to 2 formal classes a year for skills remediation and updates.   

While your Anne Arundel County Professional Fire Fighters take their training very seriously, we sincerely hope we never have to use these unique tactical skills. Please remember the phrase, “turn around, don’t drown!”  

Marina Hardy