2014-09-10 / Front Page

Firefighters use Cherokee National pool to train in water rescue techniques

By TIM GULLA
Ledger Staff Writer


Olympic judges would likely frown on the belly flop entrances these Gaffney firefighters made into the swimming pool at Cherokee National, but the firefighters weren’t looking for style points. All city firefighters are currently going through a 16-hour course to learn water rescue techniques and the pool is serving as a safe place to practice. Olympic judges would likely frown on the belly flop entrances these Gaffney firefighters made into the swimming pool at Cherokee National, but the firefighters weren’t looking for style points. All city firefighters are currently going through a 16-hour course to learn water rescue techniques and the pool is serving as a safe place to practice. Tuesday was far from perfect swimming weather.

With overcast skies following a cool night, the water temperature at the Cherokee National Golf & Recreation pool was more than just a little chilly.

In some ways, however, the conditions served as a perfect reminder that emergencies are never planned in advance.

As part of an effort to get all City of Gaffney firefighters trained in water rescue techniques, firefighters have been taking over the pool at Cherokee National every afternoon since Sunday to learn all sorts of rescue techniques beginning with the basics of simply getting into the water safely.

How do you get a rope to a patient? What should they do if a patient is struggling and risks pulling them under water, too? These were just some of the questions they had to answer.

Capt. Scott Coleman, who was teaching the classes at the pool Tuesday afternoon, said the 16-hour course is designed to familiarize city firefighters with the techniques but not to certify them as technicians at this point. The South Carolina Fire Academy course is being taught by five certified instructors already on the Gaffney Fire Department staff.

“The goal is to develop policies, procedures and equipment choices by learning what the needs are and to evaluate the hazards in our area,” Coleman explained.

While Gaffney firefighters don’t have many bodies of water in their district, Fire Chief Jamie Caggiano said the water rescue techniques can come into play in numerous situations — such as during flooding.

Long-range plans call for some Gaffney firefighters to become certified next summer as water rescue technicians. While some members of the Gaffney fire department already had some water rescue coursework through other sources, this is the first time the entire department is taking the course.

The course, which will wrap up this weekend, was open to other fire departments. Coleman said the classes included firefighters from Spartanburg and York counties as well.

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