Monsoon Special 2013: Rescuers prepare for monsoon

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by April Warnecke

Bio | Email | Follow: @AprilWarnecke

azfamily.com

Posted on June 5, 2013 at 4:36 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 5 at 4:36 PM

PHOENIX -- Here in the desert Southwest, it doesn't take long for usually-dry washes to fill up during a monsoon rain storm.  But long before those storm clouds roll in, local rescue workers head to the Salt River to get ready for what mother nature has in store.

The Scottsdale Fire Department's Technical Rescue Team heads to the river to practice paddling and rowing, swimming against a current and tossing ropes to would-be flash flood victims. 

Firefighters practice all different kinds of rescue scenarios, many of them in groups, in order to absorb the water's impact. Rescuers say flowing water can be tricky. 

"It's deceiving. Five miles an hour may not sound very fast, but once that water gets above your knee, that's putting several pounds of weight against you.  There's always a feeling of apprehension when we go in because there's no controlling the flow of the water," said Captain Gary Burns of the Scottsdale Fire Department. 

There's also no controlling what might be in the water.  Firefighters say they've come across everything from shopping carts to cars to old axles.  Even swing sets and picnic tables can be hidden in those rushing waters, waiting to entangle or slam into rescuers. 

During these drills, the rescuers take turns playing the victim. 

But if you find yourself needing rescuing this monsoon, you could be held financially responsible for that rescue if you drove around posted signs or barricades thanks to the state's Stupid Motorist Law. 

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