When bad weather and rising floodwaters strike Kerr County, the Kerrville Fire Department now has a new way to respond to rescue operations on the Guadalupe River.
The department recently acquired a Zodiak F420 rescue boat, a fully-inflatable water craft designed specifically to help emergency personnel respond quickly to crisis situations.
The KFD’s Water Operations Team has been practicing with the boat on Lake Nimitz.
“We practice our skills in a nice calm environment like this, and then translate that over to a swift water environment when we have the opportunity," Kerrville Fire Department Battalion Chief Mark Logue said.
The training is vital. Only six of the KFD’s 17-man Water Ops team have any type of boat training experience. Two are unlimited boat operators, which means they can operate in flat or flood water, or in swift water conditions, in day or night. The other four are currently approved only to operate day or night in flat water or flood water conditions.
“Slowly we’re going to bring up the whole team,” Logue said. “Our goal is all 17 team members can operate in any water conditions regardless of the time of day.”
The unit has also been working on water-related victim recovery. “You’ll have a man overboard in the water, and they’ll pick up that victim and get them back in the boat,” Logue said. “This translates into a swift water environment where the conditions are a lot more hazardous and under a lot more stress.”
Kerrville Fire Chief Dannie Smith is thankful to have the new craft.
“It’s our hope that we never have to use this equipment,” Smith said. “However, if a water rescue is needed, this is a critical asset to effect a proper response in Kerrville and Kerr County.