Marysville fire trying swimmingly to get water rescue team

MARYSVILLE – Firefighters have to be comfortable around water, obviously.

But eight Marysville Fire District firefighters are taking it to the next level. They have completed testing to become members of district’s new Rapid Entry Rescue Swimmer Team.

Captains Matt Campbell and Chad Hale, and firefighters Ryan Hopp, Luis Cruz, Solomon Wilson, Chad Solbakken and Jack Reeves, and Capt./paramedic Cody Brooke will attend training to certify as rescue swimmers in early September.

Campbell said he has been interested in being on a team since they first started talking about it in 2005.

“I’ve been on a couple drownings in my career and the helpless feeling of standing on the dock or motoring around in the boat trying to look for someone and even if we found something being limited in what we would be allowed to do legally,” he said. “ Our water rescue program is inadequate for the potential threat we have and this program hopefully will be the shot in the arm we need to better serve the district and improve our basic capabilities.”

Campbell said he has always enjoyed swimming.

“I’ve been around the water my whole life,” he said. “I spent a season on the high school swim team after a knee injury in football kept me from wrestling my sophomore year. My first two years in the Marines was spent in an infantry boat company in which we were required to be good swimmers.”

Likewise, firefighter Solomon Wilson loved swimming as a kid and got his bachelor’s degree on Oceanography.

“I got certified as a SCUBA diver as a teenager and have spent a lot of time in the Puget Sound,” he added.

A friend in the Lake Stevens Fire Department joined their team and loved it, Wilson said, adding: “I figured I enjoy swimming, I enjoy being a first responder. It would be the perfect opportunity to help expand my skillset.”

A Rapid Entry Rescue Swimmer is defined as an emergency responder qualified to enter slow-moving water to conduct surface or subsurface search and rescue where there is a chance of survival.

Team members will be evaluated on a 25-yard underwater swim, 225-yard surface swim and 15 minutes of treading water.

“With the institution of this program, we will be in a better position to save more lives,” Fire Chief Martin McFalls said.

“Once our team is fully certified in September, we will be able to respond to local bodies of water where rapid entry could make all the difference in a rescue.”

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