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.