Members of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue were at the Gyro Park boat launch on Wednesday morning to begin a refresher on their river rescue skills.

Members of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue were at the Gyro Park boat launch on Wednesday morning to begin a refresher on their river rescue skills.

Firefighters sharpen river rescue skills

“Whether you are in the river or on a firetruck, you absolutely have to hone your skills and re-certify.” - Regional Fire Chief Terry Martin

Wednesday was the first day of a three-day training exercise for Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue.

The Columbia River set the scene for rescue training and Regional Fire Chief Terry Martin says the training is necessary for professionals to maintain their skill level.

“It’s something that needs to be re-certified every couple of years,” he said. “Whether you are in the river or on a firetruck, you absolutely have to hone your skills and re-certify.”

The skills practiced during the training exercises come in handy too often.

“We go in the river, unfortunately, a few times a year to assist people and sometimes body recovery,” said Martin. “We need to get in there and we need to be good at our profession and we need to hone our skills.”

Even though the members of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue are trained professionals, Martin says there is still risk involved during the training exercises.

“You have to look at the safety aspect of putting someone in the river, even for one of our members for the training side of things,” he said, adding that although they only do formal rescue training every couple of years, they still like to stay familiar with the river even though some members may not need it.

“We’ve got some members in our department who grew up in the area and did a lot of fishing on the river over the years, so they know it very, very well. We will go in the river for orientation with the boat a couple of times a year.”