Highly-skilled swift water rescue teams called upon during flooding

Man rescued in Lebanon on South Cumberland Street (Courtesy: Lebanon Police Department/ Facebook)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When flooding occurs and people are trapped in their homes, vehicles, or alone by themselves amid rising waters, the members of a swift water rescue team are often called upon.

Their jobs are to rescue victims of flooding, especially flash flooding, many times risking their own lives in the process.

Swift water rescuing is a highly technical procedure dealing primarily with fast moving water. It involves specially-trained personnel using ropes, boats, and other specialized equipment to assist in the rescue of endangered people.

There are several swift water rescue teams across Middle Tennessee, including a large one in Sumner County.

It consists of 25 to 30 members, called technicians, who are trained in life-saving techniques and procedures.

It takes a lot of time and effort to become a technician. The team generally practices once a month to hone their skills and keep up with the latest equipment, techniques, and procedures.

(Photo: WKRN)

Recently, the team in Sumner County was called into action when slow-moving thunderstorms dumped three to six inches of rain in about two hours, flooding many creeks and streams.

People who became trapped were rescued from both their homes and vehicles. Altogether, 27 people were saved, including 17 children on a school bus who became engulfed in rapidly rising floodwaters. There were no injuries.

In many cases, particularly during flash flooding, people put themselves into bad situations by trying to move through flooded roadways.

Ken Weidner, Sumner County EMA director has the best advice, borrowed from the National Weather Service.

“My advice would be to turn around, don’t drown, don’t drive in water, don’t be in such a hurry, just go somewhere and chill awhile until the water goes down,” he said.