New water rescue initiative better equips Branson Fire and Rescue to respond during water emergencies

BRANSON, Mo. -- There will soon be a life-saving team in Branson, comprised of trained firefighters who can jump in to help during flash flooding or high-water emergencies.

"From the water rescue boots to safety gloves, they'll have a personal flotation device," Branson Fire & Rescue Chief Ted Martin said. "A dry suit that keeps a member 100 percent dry from contaminated water."

Chief Martin explains the department now has special water rescue equipment for trained personnel to use during water emergencies.

"We've got the case history of swift water entering neighborhoods along Lake Taneycomo, along Branson Landing," Chief Martin said.

Now, through community donations, Branson's Fire Department will also have specialized water rescue training and even the boat needed to perform water rescues. Most recently, Healing Tree Health Club owners, Dr. Joy and Tom Watson, donated $1,500 to the initiative, which will be used to purchase a reserve motor for the department’s new water rescue boat. The initiative will allow Branson crews to respond quickly, without waiting for aid from another nearby department.

"We want to reduce the risk of delay. We want to be able to respond immediately with a certain level of capabilities," Chief Martin said.

Chief Martin says this initiative also includes a prevention and preparedness aspect, too.

"We are going to add live weather stations on the west side of Table Rock Lake in Stone County, add a few more weather stations along the 165, 265 corridor on the east side of the lake," Chief Martin said.

That means, emergency personnel and the public can track potentially severe weather before it strikes.

"As storms enter the eastern part of Stone County, across Table Rock Lake into Branson and Eastern Taney County," Chief Martin said.

He says those stations should be placed and water rescue personnel trained by the Spring, ready to respond when the time comes.

"Something that can help our community out during times of disaster," Chief Martin said.

Chief Martin says the goal is to not only have the water rescue team available to assist during water rescue emergencies in the city, but in other communities nearby.

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