Behind the scenes: Fire crews explain the dangers of swift water rescues

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Rescue teams train year-round to be ready for calls. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rescue teams train year-round to be ready for calls. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Phoenix Fire Station 8's Technical Rescue team was the one to make that save on Tuesday night, one they expect to do that a dozen times by the end of the year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Phoenix Fire Station 8's Technical Rescue team was the one to make that save on Tuesday night, one they expect to do that a dozen times by the end of the year. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Drivers should stay in the car if their vehicle is surrounded by water. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Drivers should stay in the car if their vehicle is surrounded by water. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
When the water receded on Tuesday, the man's car had been buried in mud. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) When the water receded on Tuesday, the man's car had been buried in mud. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

The past two nights we've shown you breaking news of drivers stranded in fast-moving flood water.

Now, rescue crews are ready for more scenes like that.

On Tuesday, a man was pulled to safety after finding himself stranded in the water near 319th Avenue and Baseline Road after his car was washed down the river.  

[RELATED: Elderly man rescued from flooded wash in far southwest Valley]

"They ended up doing what we call a shallow water rescue where we put men in the water with this type of equipment and we work our way to the vehicle," said Michael Velasco, firefighter and EMT with the Phoenix Fire Department.

When the water receded, the man’s car had been buried in mud.

[READ MORE: Man pulled from flood waters recounts rescue]

Then the following night, a driver and a passenger needed to be airlifted from the Salt River near 91st and Southern avenues.

Phoenix Fire Station 8's Technical Rescue team was the one to make that save on Tuesday night, one they expect to do that a dozen times by the end of the year. Each time, putting themselves at risk.

[READ MORE: Crews rescue 2 people stranded by flooded river in southwest Valley]

"The water is very unpredictable. It could be going very very fast. There could be debris in the water," said Velasco.  

That's why crews train every couple of months. 

"These are not just three or four firefighters making a rescue. There could be up to 12 because we have to put people up the water, down the water, to see what's coming at us," said Velasco.  

So what do rescuers say you should do if you find yourself being washed away in floodwaters? Most drivers stay in their car.

"It's a hard decision to make. If the car's starting to fill up, you kind of go into panic mode. But at least they're somewhat protected. If they get in the water, they can be swept downstream,” said Velasco.

Of course, he says the best thing to do is to try and avoid getting in this type of situation by not driving in through this kind of floodwater in the first place.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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