Monsoon 2013

Jun 28, 2012 7:00 PM

Swift Water Rescue crews test new life-saving device

TUCSON - Summer is here and that means summer storms are on the way, whether we're ready or not. But with ‘Emily' on the team, the Northwest Fire District is more ready than ever.

Just like clockwork, every summer monsoon storms flood the desert, filling up washes and dry river beds. Cars end up underwater, and motorists get stranded and cry for help.

Rescue crews risk their own lives to save the lives of others. This summer, swift water rescue crews from Northwest Fire won't have to go into the water to pull others out - they'll send Emily to the rescue.

Emily is a small radio-controlled life raft, that is remotely sent to the stranded motorist. They then grab on to Emily and are pulled to safety. Weighing just 25 pounds, Emily can safely pull up to four people out of the water. Rescue crews spent a few hours training with Emily Thursday morning.

Bert Rucker, a Swift Water Training Specialist with Northwest Fire, was one of the first to take Emily for a spin, "We're looking forward to having it as an adjunct to the other tools we use in emergency rescues. It gives us another tool, another opportunity to not put someone in the water if we don't have to," Rucker said.

Northwest Fire is just the second department in Southern Arizona to put Emily on the team. Green Valley was the first.

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