Thursday, April 18, 2024

Manson volunteer firefighters conduct water-rescue training in Lake Chelan

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MANSON – In the Chelan Valley, Volunteer Firefighters of Chelan County Fire District 5 are sometimes called to rescue people, accident victims, animals, and property from conditions more challenging than those on dry land. With the Chelan alpine lake more than 50 miles long, passengers of boats, automobiles and even airplanes find themselves in dangerous situations floating -- or sinking -- in the 1,350 foot deep lake. It is the third-deepest in North America. 

To prepare for such dire situations, Manson Fire District #5 conducts regular water-rescue training sessions whereby the all-volunteer staff learns the best and most efficient techniques. Attired in heavy-duty dry suits, the volunteers are taught by top-flight instructors who have developed safety protocols that allow firefighters to enter the lake year-round in all types of weather. 

“Yes, it’s really cold when the Manson Volunteer Firefighters are learning methods for improving their skills,” Manson Fire Chief Arnold Baker remarked. “They have the right insulated equipment and learn the proper systems to assist boat or auto passengers who may be in peril. When the lake hits 40 degrees F., a victim in the water needs to be rescued quickly.”

Sudden immersion in very cold water may cause fatal hypothermia in as little as 5 to 15 minutes, according to experts. “It’s not a pretty sight,” Chief Baker said. Our volunteer water rescue team needs to be on the spot right away with the right equipment.” 

The Manson Fire District watercraft (shown) is a Fortuna rescue boat that is remarkably stable and is unable to be flipped over. What’s more, it is versatile and can be paddled, towed or used to disperse weight while on ice. It is also a perfect lifeboat because it is easy to rescue victims with its many handholds. Also, it's unique as the boat is filled with a single SCBA (self-contained breather apparatus) tank, the same units used by firemen for breathing air while going into hazardous environments such as structure fires.

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