On Thursday, the Missoula Fire Department will be receiving swift water rescue training on the swollen Clark Fork River between East Missoula and the downtown area from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Firefighter and paramedic Mike Thurlow describes the training.

“We have the Whitewater Institute trainers coming in to teach the rescue team, which consists of roughly 15 members of the fire department, along with two folks from Billings Fire who will be training with us on some swift water rescue scenarios,” said Thurlow.  “We’ll train to rescue a person in distress who can’t swim out of the water,” he said. “Maybe a boat that flipped upside down. The river does have a couple of strainers, those are logs that cross the water that people could get stuck on, and we can do everything from an island rescue to even a vehicle in the water.”

Thurlow is recommending the people simply stay away from swollen, fast-moving rivers and streams for their own safety.

“Right now with the river being as cold as it is, how muddy and how much debris is in there and the current is really strong, so anybody is advised to just keep their distance,” he said. “The currents are a lot stronger than people anticipate and there’s a lot of debris under that muddy water. People who walk their dogs near the river should have them leashed and now is not a good time to allow them to free swim in the river. If your dog does happen to get into trouble, call the fire department and we will come and get that animal from an island or a rock, because we don’t want anybody going in the water to try to rescue an animal.”

The Fire Department has notified 9-1-1, so they will be aware there are rescue vehicles and watercraft in the area.

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