News: Firefighters conduct marsh rescue training
Story by Cpl. Sarah Fiocco
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- Firefighters from the Parris Island Fire and Rescue department practiced water rescues in depot marshes, July 22.
Firefighters went to the picnic areas on Horse Island to refresh their skills at retrieving individuals stuck in the marsh mud surrounding the depot as part of a monthly training event.
“People just don’t realize how dangerous it is to get stuck in the pluff mud around here,” said fire Capt. Shelly Gonzales, exercise safety officer.
Gonzales said the pluff mud around Parris Island will cause a person to sink into it. The more a person struggles, the more likely they are to sink deeper into the mud, similar to quicksand.
The exercise put firefighters in a situation to rescue a young woman who had gone out to the marshes to retrieve a ball while playing with friends and family on family day.
For the exercise firefighters used a portable inflatable sidewalk to safely walk out to a stranded dummy.
Gonzales said PIFR has three such systems allowing personnel to
“leap frog” the sections and walk deep into the marshes if necessary.
PIFR purchased the Air Trac system in 2007 to allow for quick and safe entry in the marshes surrounding Parris Island, said Gonzales.
Originally used for walking across ice, the system proved versatile enough for use in marsh rescues, said Ralph Stanley, a fire captain for PIFR.
“Before we would lay down ladders and walk to the victims on them,” Gonzales said. “What we have now is much more stable to walk across and a lot safer.”