FOREST, Va. (WFXR) — Swiftwater rescue crews are at the ready in Bedford amid heavy rainfall in and around the area, staying current in terms of equipment and training.
The last time they were called out for a large-scale rescue was in September, when they went to Suffolk to help during hurricane Dorian.
Abbey Johnston, the Deputy Chief of Operations for the Bedford County Department of Fire & Rescue, said the group has about 30 trained swiftwater technicians that can be deployed anywhere in Virginia.
“What people really don’t know about these types of incidents is it takes a tremendous amount of training, time, and commitment,” she said.
She said 10 to 15 people respond to any given swiftwater call, more if it’s an especially tough case.
She added that, more than likely, a call in the Bedford area would be a driver trying to cross over water that’s too deep, too fast, or both.
“A lot of people, you know, think that if I just drive really quickly or I’m in a large vehicle, then I’ll be fine. Hydraulics and water is not something to mess around with,” she said.
Casey Dilbeck of Mitchell’s Towing agrees, and said hydroplaning is easier than you think, so it’s a good idea to be on the safe side.
“The best thing to do is just let off the gas pedal and reduce your speed down that way. And if you do have to use your breaks, don’t punch them, just lightly press them,” he said.