Firefighters train for underwater rescue

By Krystal Allan - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - At the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, firefighters are training in underwater rescue.

"We can't ask for a better area to train for our dive rescue team," said Jamin Jenkins, district supervisor for the Gulfport Fire Department.

In a pool, 12 feet deep, firefighters are training for underwater rescue using a technique called line-tending.  It's a technique where one person holds one end of a rope on shore while divers hold on to the other.  The movement of the rope helps the person on-shore communicate with divers.

"Most of the time we're in zero visibility water; you can't really see what you're doing and you can't train in that environment cause you can't keep an eye on the divers," said Jenkins.

Training in these scenarios bears a striking resemblance, firefighters say, to what they do every day.

"In firefighting, you can't see inside a house fire, and you can't see inside dark water.  I mean, it just helps with your basic skills," said Wiggins firefighter Darius Hickman.

Firefighters usually volunteer to become rescue divers.  They say dive and rescue is becoming a vital part of rescue training.

"We have Flint Creek in Wiggins, and we've had some incidences at Flint Creek where we've needed a dive team.  We've had to call on Hattiesburg and I believe Gulfport. [The training] just adds another weapon to our arsenal," Hickman said.

Department officials say they will continue their partnership with the institute to train more firefighters in dive and rescue.

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