Hugh Merkle Team - COMPASS RE

5 From SHFD Complete Open-Water Rescue Course

Posted July 26th 2021

Five firefighters from the Stone Harbor Fire Department successfully completed a three-day course in open-water rescue in early July.

Raymond Conover, Peter Conlin, Robert McClure Jr., Joshua Otton and Eric Staeger each received 24 hours of training provided by the North Wildwood Fire Department on July 7, 9 and 10. The first day, participants worked on awareness. The second and third days were spent on operations: first in a pool, then in the ocean. The firefighters were taught how to enter the water and rescue people in distress while keeping the responder safe in the water.

The fire department is the primary agency to respond to surf rescues when the lifeguards are not on duty. This training enhances the department’s ability to provide that service.

“As a community with a primary focus on our beach and bay, it’s important that our firefighters become certified in open-water rescue,” said Stone Harbor Mayor Judy Davies-Dunhour. “Each year, more and more residents and visitors venture into the open water with WaveRunners, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, etc. Safety is of utmost importance, and we need to be prepared so that our firefighters are capable of open-water rescue, if needed.”

This course provided one of the most difficult training sessions in which these firefighters have participated. They were required to pass a swim test in order to proceed to the operations portion of the course. While the SHFD provides in-house training on water and surf rescues, this open-water rescue course was much more extensive in its education of the responders.

“I am very happy that our members attended this course,” said Stone Harbor Fire Chief Roger Stanford. “Surf rescues are a dangerous response, and the victims need to be rescued quickly to avoid a tragedy. The firefighters take these responses seriously, and the department has increased our training and equipment to help us in providing this service.

“We currently use a fire boat, WaveRunner, rescue boards, and trained swimmers to help with the operation. We also have an automatic response with the Avalon Fire Department for all surf rescues in Stone Harbor and Avalon in order to have the most resources available for a positive outcome with these rescues.”

Since the fire department hired its first group of paid firefighters back in December 2020, the goal was to get them trained in open-water rescue. The training of this group of firefighters is the first step in that plan, with the rest of the paid firefighters expected to participate in the same training next year.

Photo caption: Members of the Stone Harbor Fire Department who attended the open-water rescue class (from left: Raymond Conover, Peter Conlin, Robert McClure Jr., Joshua Otton and Eric Staeger.

The Hugh Merkle Team - COMPASS Office: 609-368-9100
374 96th Street, Stone Harbor
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