October 21, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
46°F
test

Local firefighters aid in flood rescue

ELYRIA — A team of Elyria and Avon firefighters trained in swift water rescue were dispatched to Richland County on Tuesday to help rescue residents deluged by floodwaters in that county, Elyria firefighters said.

As part of a statewide mutual aid system that allows fire departments and other emergency institutions to share resources, eight Elyria firefighters and two Avon firefighters left for Shelby about 9 a.m. Tuesday, Elyria fire Capt. Joe Pronesti said.  The team of 10 was called by the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, Pronesti said.

The crew used boats and other gear to rescue residents who were stranded in their homes or other areas by the rapid runoff and floodwaters.

The Elyria and Avon firefighters are part of a local swift water rescue group that receives specialized rescue training for water-based emergencies, Pronesti said.

While every Elyria firefighter receives general water-rescue training, the swift water teams receive countless hours of training that allows them to actually enter the water during an emergency.

“(Elyria) is very fortunate to have these guys trained,” Pronesti said. “These guys have advance levels of training — they can actually go into the water and rescue people.”

Training for firefighters who aren’t qualified for swift water rescues generally includes using ropes and other devices to rescue victims, but they can’t enter the water.

Elyria fire also has a swift water rescue technician, Lt. Rick Thrasher, who is among just a few in the state qualified to train firefighters for swift-water rescue.

The team of local firefighters made the hour-long drive to Shelby, and spent about five hours assisting emergency crews and residents in the water-ravaged town. The crew returned to Lorain County about 7 p.m.

According to the National Weather Service, a lot of rain fell in that area on Monday. Richland was one of four north-central Ohio counties that still had flood warnings expected to last until noon today, and that area also has a 40 percent chance of rain each day until Friday. 

Contact Shawn Foucher at 329-7197 or sfoucher@chroniclet.com.