Harrison firefighters train for swift water rescues on Crooked Creek

HARRISON, Ark. - In the past six months, there were at least two devastating accidents in the Harrison area where people drowned.

Firefighters were out on Crooked Creek near a low-water crossing off South Pine Street, training to save and recover people swept away in fast-moving water.

"We've had numerous cars washed off low-water slabs, and retrieving the people that got washed off is our job," said Harrison Battalion Chief Robert Healea.

But they also have to train to make sure they aren't the ones who need rescuing.

"If it's coming over and the boat gets up to it, it can flip the boat. We've got to flip it back over and keep doing our job," said Captain Thanh Ketchum.

Firefighters said on average they have about three incidents every year in the Harrison area where someone gets stuck on the water.

Back in November, John and Amy Villines were swept off a low-water crossing and were not found until weeks later.

"We'd have trained anyway even though that did happen," Healea said. "There's been numerous incidents in the city limits that we have had to go to people washing off or be stranded in the middle of a bridge. We also help the park service whenever they have trouble on the Buffalo River."

Just last week Allen Buberwa, a North Arkansas College student, drowned after falling into the Buffalo National River.

And Harrison firefighters were out in their boat trying to recover him.

They said it's the perfect time of year to practice out on the water.

"All our low-water slabs are coming up. The ground is saturated. So pretty much everything, any rain we get now is just going to flood everything," Ketchum said.

Firefighters said they do this training at least a couple times a year.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.