Video: Swiftwater Rescue at Great Falls

Video: Swiftwater Rescue Training at Great Falls National Park

Video: Swiftwater Rescue - Full Training Run

The local fire department brought out three powerboats to practice swiftwater rescue techniques and boating. Great Falls and the Mather Gorge are tremendously popular spots for people to go kayaking, rafting, and paddleboarding. And the incredibly popular Billy Goat Trail Part A on the Maryland side of the river attracts countless hikers. Some of whom need rescuing. Fortunately the local fire department prepares for many such contingencies. On this training day, they took their boats up and down the Mather Gorge several times. Occasionally tossing out life preserver rings to have other boats try to catch them. Later they had one person get out of a boat and act as a stranded victim on the rocks in need of rescue. And a boat would practice pulling over and safely getting the person off the rocks and into the boat. It was very cool to watch. Those guys, and their boats, are amazing. Clamoring out on cliffs to save people. And pulling off very sharp turns in tight spaces with fast currents. On busy Summer weekends, these guys just campout at Great Falls Park with all their gear and boats, just waiting for the call to help.

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That looks like a lot of fun. Man I love water.

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Fun? This is serious business. Anyone that runs rivers needs to practice rescues. Thanks for posting.

About 1967, I was at Great Falls with two friends on a nice February day. One of them slipped on the rocks and went into fast moving water at the first bridge from the Maryland side. We thought we were doing a body recovery. There were no cell phones, so my friend ran to a pay phone in the parking lot and dialed 911 or the equivalent.

I ran down the bank, trying to keep my friend in sight. He was a lifeguard at Ocean City, and managed to climb out of the fast moving water on a rock outcrop. There was no swift water rescue in those days. A fire company ladder truck showed up. They could not reach him with ladder. About 45 minutes later a helicopter rescued him and we got him warmed up.

My friend went home and was watching the news with his Mom when there was a new story about the kid that was rescued at Great Falls. The jig was up.

Glad there is a swiftwater unit now. Practice makes perfect.

I finally finished editing the footage from that day. So here’s the last set of clips:

Swiftwater Rescue Training #3

You’re welcome. Things can be a lot of fun to do and at the same time, serious, or even deadly serious. It’s called being an adrenaline junkie. People don’t become paratroopers out of a sense of serious work. If they wanted that they’d just join the leg infantry or drive in motor T. No, they want combat and want to fall out of perfectly good airplanes. The higher up you go in the food chain, the more type A, adrenaline junkies there are.
Many examples of jobs people do because they like the challenge, the danger, the high. It has nothing to do with not taking something serious as if they didn’t, they’d not last long.