Issue 8 and Volume 139.

RAPID WATER RESCUE Features RESCUE TECHNIQUES Austin, TX, one of the most flash-flood prone areas in the nation, demands that its fire department be proficient with rapid water rescue techniques. This high level of efficiency is accomplished through sound judgment, thorough subject knowledge, and calm nerves. Austin lies on the edge of the Balcones Escarpment, a range of foothills beginning in the western portions of the city and stretching north and south along Interstate35. Warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico hits these hills and thunderstorms often develop. Rainfall accumulations of 12—15 inches in a 24-hour period are possible in some rare situations. The most noted example of such a deluge occurred on Memorial Day 1981. The Austin Fire Department’s rapid water training program was responsible for 33 people being saved from probable drowning. Thirteen people died, but most of them were never in a position to have been…

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