Over the bank rescue training: 'The terrain was loose'

Over the bank rescue training: 'The terrain was loose'

WINCHESTER, Ore. -- Overlooking the Winchester Dam, the challenges lie not on the water, but on the terrain.

Once a year, firefighters from Douglas County Fire District #2 re-learn the ropes of over-the-bank rescue training, to prepare them for responding to everything from farm equipment sliding down an embankment to boaters stranded in the river.

"Firefighters that work on the fire stations run the fire trucks," said Fire Marshal Josep Pedrola. "Most of the times they are the first ones that will respond or arrive to calls for people over the bank, vehicles that get off the road, ATV accidents are fairly common in these areas."

Nick Wecks of the Technical Rescue Team says that every little bit of practice helps for sometimes stressful situations. "We're just using minimal equipment for them to get over the bank, to assess a patient and to get the patient back up safely," he said.

Over the bank rescues are physically demanding, and firefighters need a thorough knowledge of the ropes and pulleys they use. "The weather was hot today, that made things a little more difficult to hold onto things and the terrain was loose, we tripped and had a hard time getting our footing," said Jason Papetti, a firefighter and paramedic for District 2.

The department faces 8-12 scenarios like this every year in Douglas County.

There have been 6 over a bank rescue situations since January, but these firefighters say they appreciate the quick refresher to help them tackle what the rest of the year may bring.