Technical Rescue - Swift Water
The OTTERS - Oriskany Technical Team Emergency Rescue Swimmers
The water rescue unit was formed 20 years ago with a generous donation of a 12 foot Quicksilver inflatable rigid bottom boat and a 5 hp motor. They have used this along with various other tools to perform simple water rescue.
In 2009, several members attended a special training program at the NYS Fire Academy in Montour Falls NY. This training allowed the member to perform go rescues and river crossing in swift moving water. It wasn't long before the team was officially formed and began the process of gathering equipment. Through donations, Village contributions and the members own personal purchases, the team was formed. Purchased shortly after the formation was several wetsuits, technical Personal Floatation Devices, helmets and various lengths of rope. Since then, the team has received a NYS Homeland Security Grant of Federal Money used to increase the regional resources in the area of technical rescue. The grant allowed the team to mobilize all equipment in a trailer and increased its capabilities to perform longer durations in colder water with drysuits. More rope, helmets, PFD's and remote lighting to name only a few items were purchased on this grant. In addition to the grant, the members of the Oriskany Fire Department unanimously decided to use its own funding to purchase a Rapid Deployement Craft for use in the swift water, ice rescue and liter extraction on snow. The cost of this item alone was almost $4,0000.
The team meets monthly with a rigorous training schedule and each member must pass an annual swim test. Each team member is proficient in throwing rope bags and setting up various items to assist in rescue techniques. The team is growing and has made the news on several occasions.
Education to not only the team members, but fellow firefighters, ems and law enforcement officials is another task of the OTTERS. Knowing what resources are out there and what some of the true dangers around moving water are just some of the topics that is stress during outside agency training.
If you have questions, comments or would like to know more please feel free to contact Chief Jeffrey S. Burkhart.