Water rescue training in the rough

Digital Originals

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — People passing by the boat ramp in Columbia, Lancaster County, might well wonder if there was a water rescue going on — and who would go out on the Susquehanna River in the first place — with water running so fast and so high.

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If they got closer, they might wonder why people would bring in units all the way from Reading to help.

Well, relax. It wasn’t a rescue, it was rescue training. It’s a class run by WhiteCap Water Training in Hellam Township, York County.

“Yesterday was the classroom and theory section, emergency boat operations and rescue, and today,” Todd Stahl of WhiteCap said. “The second day of the training will be the handson, what we call the skills day.”

As for that nasty-looking river?

“For first responders involving water rescue, this is the perfect and ideal conditions. We have high water, we have floating debris, and it also gets the feel of what the maximum horsepower on their boats and how the boats respond and react to the flood conditions,” Stahl said.

“It’s been a busy year with the rainfall, and we’ve had a lot more urban flooding, due to the construction, the developments, the strip malls going up, and water runs faster on asphalt and concrete, versus grass and dirt and soil,” Stahl explained.

Stahl says this training is needed more than ever.

“They’re low volume, high-risk calls. You may get a call tonight, you may get a call next month, you might go three months. and then, as a few weeks ago when we had Ida come up the coast, we were embedded with water, we had water everywhere, and we needed to use the rescue boats in that situation,” Stahl said.

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