The weather is warming up and folks are anxious to hit local lakes, ponds and pools to cool off.
With the beginning of the swimming season, comes the threat of drowning.
Thursday, rescue crews in our area took some time to make sure they are trained to handle emergencies on the water.
Each year around this time, Mason City Fire and Rescue does water rescue trainings.
Crews were out on Big Blue to make sure they’re prepared to handle anything, before the summer swimming season begins.
“Anytime somebody is in distress, where they’re unable to help themselves, then we’re going to try and simulate that,” explains Lt. Dustin Pillard.
Mason City Fire and Rescue are training with their jet ski, to ensure the crews and equipment will be ready for the season.
“Whether it’s somebody fishing or swimming, they cramp or fall in, or have a health issue, it’s something that we’re able to get our people out as well as our equipment out in a quick response,” adds Pillard.
It might look simple but Lt. Pillard says a lot of balance and coordination go into these kinds of water rescues.
“We have two rescuers and one victim. Normally, we do work in pairs no matter what we do, we’ve got a driver and rescuer and then we have somebody that we’re trying to pull out of the water,” he adds.
According to the CDC about half of all unintentional drownings happen in natural water that many times isn’t monitored by lifeguards.
What steps can you take to make sure you’re staying safe while swimming in an un-guarded area? We asked a lifeguard.
“Make sure that you aren’t too far away from the edge, if you’re not a strong swimmer. But, number one try to get your kids swimming lessons,” says Patty Orton, a lifeguard at the Mason City YMCA.
Another problem can arise when swimmers cramp up in the water. With the water temperature still pretty cool in most lakes, the likelihood of this happening is high. But there are ways to handle that situation.
“When I taught swim lessons, I always try to teach the kids to roll over on their back and float, and even as an adult when I’ve swam, you just roll over and float and relax try to stretch it out a bit,” says Orton.
While we all hope we don’t need to call on them, rescue crews are ready for a water emergency, if one does happen.
“Call right away, the quicker we get here, the quicker we can help, and if it turns out to be nothing, then don’t worry about it,” adds Lt. Pillard.
The rescue jet ski can also be used in flooding emergencies. Lt. Pillard says in 2008 they had to evacuate a campground that was heavily flooded, and that having a jet ski allows them to maneuver around easier than if they were in a boat.