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First responders learn new water rescue skills in Dauphin County

MIDDLE PAXTON TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- First responders were on the Susquehanna River on Saturday in Dauphin County learning new water rescue skills.

It was all a part of Pennsylvania’s Emergency Boat Operations and Water Rescue Training.

EMS, firefighters and police from Pennsylvania and other states across the Northeast all took part.

“Typically if you get some kind of rain event and high water people go out and they don’t check the water conditions and they find themselves in trouble," said Ryan Walt, boating and watercraft safety manager, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.

From pulling a capsized boating victim to safety —to making sharp turns in a rescue boat at high speeds — Ryan Walt with the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission says the intense training prepares first responders to handle most obstacles thrown their way.

“If we had to rescue someone that capsized a kayak or canoe out here on the river, we do the boat over boat rescue," said Walt. “You go in forward and reverse and you’re trying to have precise movements to be able to place the boat in the right area such as next to a flooded car that you need to extricate somebody from," he added.

One of the biggest challenges trainees face is learning how to get around large rocks — at high speeds — like the ones you typically see in the Susquehanna River.

“Rocks, anything like that, you’ve got to keep your mindset focused not to hit those obstacles, while at the same time focusing on making that rescue with what’s presented to you at hand," said David Hubler, trainee.

Once the 2-day training is done — each student will take the skills learned here — and go back to teach their home departments.

 “That’s what these guys are doing, they’re going to take their own time to go back, teach individuals how to be safer while they are out on the water and as a result it’s going to save lives in the long run," added Walt.