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Search and rescue team sharpens skills in Fresno canal

Search and rescue team sharpens skills in Fresno canal
Search and rescue team sharpens skills in Fresno canal
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This spring heat wave makes Valley waterways an attractive place to cool down.

But the leader of the Fresno County search and rescue team says this isn't a good time to be jumping in the icy water.

While the water looks relatively calm, downstream it's carrying the force of a freight train.

On a sizzling hot April afternoon the rescue team fished teammates out of the water. Sgt. Scott Weishaar says these spring drills sharpen their skills.

"Between Highway 180 and Reedley on busy weekends we have over 1000 people floating on inner tubes down the Kings River. We typically in any given year we'll get several hundred rescues."

The rescue team is made up of sheriff's deputies and volunteers. Team members took turns using ropes and pull power to get the boat upstream. The mission is to get the boat near the water fall to

pick up a stranded swimmer. It's a slow and methodical process.

Water from Pine Flat flows into the Kings River and some of the water streams into Fresno Irrigation District canals. With above normal snow pack and Pine Flat's water level at nearly 60%, Fresno canals should

remain full through early September. On Monday Fresno Fire's rescue team had to pull a man out of the canal at Blackstone and Olive.

Last year there were four drownings in Fresno County waterways. Two in June and two in July. If you should fall into a canal or river here's what to do.

"Is to try to float on your back with your feet heading down river. You want to keep your feet floating up so they don't get caught or snagged in anything in the water."

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Sgt. Weishaar recommends wearing a life jacket when you go in the water and to limit your alcohol when you're swimming.

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