Swiftwater Rescue Teams Pre-Positioned Throughout State Ahead of Storms

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services pre-positioned nine Swiftwater Search and Rescue teams throughout the state as a precautionary measure with another significant storm pounding Northern California. The teams are currently staged in the counties of Butte, Yuba, Sutter, Sacramento, Stanislaus, and Merced.

The pre-positioning of these specialized resources is a proactive measure to protect lives and provide rapid response to requests for assistance from local government during the current storms. Teams are deployed as part of the Cal OES Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid system, which is a neighbor helping neighbor sharing of resources.

“The pre-deployment is a move by Cal OES to be proactive in our ability to protect lives in the event that the resources are needed and to decrease the response time for specialized resources that we have available,” said Brian Woodbeck, Cal OES Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief of Operations.

Swiftwater Search and Rescue teams consist of 14 fire department-based rescuers and command element with specialized capabilities such as powered and non-powered inflatable rescue boat handling, flood search methodology, night search operations, mud and debris flow rescue, and specialized tools for locating and rescuing people trapped by flood waters.

Fire department teams are from the following departments:

  • Los Angeles City Fire
  • Los Angeles County Fire
  • Menlo Park Fire Protection District
  • Oakland City Fire Department
  • Sacramento City Fire Department
  • Ventura County Fire Department
  • Marin County Fire Department
  • Long Beach City Fire Department
  • Stockton City Fire Department

Monica Vargas

Monica is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). She has been involved in the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Valley Fire, Butte Fire, historic drought, Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident and 2017 winter storms. She previously served Cal OES as an analyst in international affairs, technology operations and executive staff support.

4 thoughts on “Swiftwater Rescue Teams Pre-Positioned Throughout State Ahead of Storms

  • February 20, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    It’s curious that my son who is a paramedic, Internationally trained white water rescuer and instructor is not allowed to help because he is temporarily unemployed after the hiring freeze recently put in place. (Somewhat partial as a mother….validity holds as he was chosen as the rescue swimmer for President Obama had he chosen rafting as an event during his recent visit to Yosemite.). With appreciation for the new proactive placement of ready rescuers….sometimes a nose gets cut off to spite the face.

    • February 21, 2017 at 7:46 am

      Sharron, I’m sure your son is well qualified like you said but it does but being on a state team is much more complex than just having a certification. I myself and certified swift water technician and I work for a Fire Dept that covers 27 miles of the Stanislaus River and we provide water rescue as part of our duties however our Department is not a state of California certified OES team. There are many extras things that a fire department must go through to be certified as state team vs a local team. It requires more specialized equipment and training requirements. Also from a safety and liability standpoint you need to be actively employed by a public safety organization. Private citizens cannot be attached to a state OES water rescue team. Again I’m sure your son has experience and qualifications in flood rescue but there are specific mandates that exists for people and teams to achieve State OES Water Rescue team status.

  • February 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    I am thankful for those who can do server to protect us all, in all manners and teams.

  • March 5, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    I don’t know if you have heard the story on the news .. but one of my friends lost his lady and two kids in a car accident into the aqua duct hear in hesperia ca . They found his lady and 3 year olds body but can’t find the 2 year old in the cold dark water and stopped the search after 3 days is there anyway you guys or do you know anywhere we can help down here this baby deserves to be buried with his mom and brother .. please help


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