AUSTIN (KXAN) — When Austin 911 gets a call about a water rescue, a special group within the Austin Fire Department quickly responds.
“In Battalion Six, the special operations group, we do swift water rescue, flatwater rescue swimmer,” Austin Fire Department Battalion Chief Todd Pomroy said.
“We have several bodies of water around us, we decided as a department to serve the city best, we have rescue swimmer skills that we put our folks through,” Pomroy said. “We swim out, engage, pull them to the shore, they also do what we call a shallow water dive, diving to go down [to] search for them, to pull them out as well.”
The battalion also specifically trains for calls involving vehicles submerged in water with a car prop built at one of AFD’s fire stations.
Pomroy helped launch it. He said a friend came to him, offering a car for training. Pomroy jumped at the chance to use it.
“[The car’s] on a platform where they actually lower it into the water and then we create like a river effect,” Pomroy said.
Cadets and firefighters take turns practicing the rescues.
“Then, you can basically speed up the way the water goes into the car. So we do specifically practice a car submerged in the water, how to approach it and how to pull people out,” Pomroy said.
Battalion Six responses
Here’s what else Battalion Six responds to according to AFD:
- Responds to dive rescues and recoveries, as well as assisting people who are caught by rapidly rising flood waters. AFD also has boats available for backup response at three outlying stations.
Hazardous Materials Response
- Responds to incidents involving hazardous materials. Team members are trained to deal with chemical spills, gas leaks and other situations involving hazardous materials.
Search and Rescue (Technical Rescue)
- Responds to confined space, trench or high-angle rescues that involve the use of ropes and rappelling techniques.