PDLFD attains Swift Water Rescue certification

PONCE DE LEON – Chief Doug Remmel of Ponce de Leon Fire Department describes his station as ‘proactive not reactiveÂ’ when talking about why he and 10 of his firefighters recently completed swift water rescue certification training. 

In swift water rescue the goal is to use
or deflect the waterÂ’s power to assist in the rescue of the endangered
person(s). The closest team is in Okaloosa County, who also recently
received their certificat
ion. Remmel says with his team being certified, it is a benefit to the county. “We are in the unique position to help with any type of water rescue in the entire county,” said Remmel. “With this certification our county will no longer have to wait an hour and a half for assistance from an out of county department.”

The training took place over three days, the first day was done in the classroom where the groundwork was laid for the practical training on days two and three. The next two days were spent in Wetumpka,
Alabama on the Tallapoosa River learning the tricks of the trade. This
experience is one Remmel says they will never for
get. “We had such a great time,” said Remmel. “We were able to take what we learned in the classroom and apply it when we were in the water. Not only did we learn a lot, we had fun while we did it.”

the department paid for their training through boot drives and other
fundraisers, the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners
paid $10,000 for the equipment needed which includes wetsuits, life jackets, rope bags and water helmets.

The idea began to be tossed around after several rescues were performed when Hurricane Sally flooded the area, this is when Remmel knew this training would be invaluable. 

“It isnÂ’t often that we need to employ this type of rescue,” said Remmel. “But it is always better to be safe than sorry.” PDL will also be working with Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties on an as needed basis and for refresher training and to practice keeping their skills honed. 

The swift water certification is just the first step in the ultimate goal for Ponce de Leon Fire Department – to attain status as a FEMA Urban Search and Recovery (USAR) Type 3 team. There are eight different requirements needed to be on call as a USAR teamsearch,
rescue, medicine, hazardous materials, logistics and planning,
including technical specialists such as physicians, structural engineers
and canine search team. The next step in the works is underwater search
and rescue.
Remmel says some of his firefighters are currently
working on their diver’s certification.  “Vortex has been a huge help
in getting some of my guys certified in diving,” said Remmel
. “We are set to do Public Safety training this month. This is just another step in the direction of our ultimate goal.”

There are several things on the list Remmel says he hopes to accomplish in his tenure as chief. 

have big plans for our station,” said Remmel. “This training was just
the tip of the iceberg in reaching our goals. Keep an eye out for
even more great things coming out of Ponce de Leon Fire Department.”

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