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Fire department creating water rescue team

Morehead City begins process of starting a water rescue crew
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 6:29 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -The coastal community of Morehead City is in the beginning stages of creating a water rescue team. After years of hurricanes, leaders at the Fire Department say they realized their was a need to have their own team and equipment for inland water rescues and swift water rescues.

Morehead City Fire Department trains to become a Water Rescue Team
Morehead City Fire Department trains to become a Water Rescue Team(witn)

The Fire department already had necessary equipment for rescues on the Intercoastal Waterways and along the beach but rescues due to flooding require different equipment and additional training.

Fire Chief Jame Fulk says it was Hurricane Florence that really drove home the need for the program. “We don’t have water rescue equipment for the inland areas like our streets and people’s homes or where water is moving very fast and unfortunately we had to rely some of our staff bringing their own equipment from home to make those water rescues,” said Fulk.

Fire officials along with help from the Newport Fire Department were able to secure $200,000 in state and federal grants to get the program up and running.

Brain Pasko is a battalion chief with the fire department and will be the team leader for the water rescue team. He says training is just in the beginning stages.

“We’ve done a swim test and got everybody that’s wanting to be on the team, knowing that they are physically and confidently able to handle themselves in the water, and from there it’s more book work and then going into some more skill preparation,” said Pasko.

There is still a lot of training to go, and officials say they expect to have the team up and ready to respond by 2021. “We’re talking about ropes training, general rescue training, water training, boat training, there’s a lot of aspects ,” said Pasko.

Chief Fulk says their goal for the program is to become certified so they can not only help residents in their own community but also all around the country.

Fulk explained, “We really want to be what’s considered in North Carolina as a type II team and there’s a whole list of equipment that goes with being a type II team and it will also allow us to be deployed to other areas of NC or in the country in the event of a water emergency.”

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