Swimming to save: Water rescue training in Butler County

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With warmer weather quickly approaching and some parts of Kakeland still under high water, first responders say they see an increase in the number of water rescue calls and specific training can be crucial for both the responder and that person needing help.

Fire trucks outside of El Dorado High School Saturday afternoon, but instead of responding to an emergency, these firefighters are there to learn. They are taking a three-day course challenging them with different water rescue scenarios.

Jason Benjamin has 30 years of combined military and public safety experience. He came to Kansas from Tennessee to teach this public safety water rescue class.

"I can't stress how important it is for folks that are riding in you know Police, Fire, EMS rescue squads to have the knowledge and skill set to enter the water when someone is actively drowning," Benjamin said. 

Benjamin says the 30-hour course is not easy and it's meant to be tough because the men and women who are first responders they are heading into the situations other people are trying to escape.

El Dorado volunteer Fire Fighter, Scott Vanpatten says in 2017 they've already responded to several water rescue calls and only expect that number to go up.

"Anytime you mix alcohol, boats and good weather the potential for something to happen is definitely increased the more we can train for that will be better for everybody," Vanpatten said.

As for Benjamin he hopes the skills will be passed on to others in the line of duty because it could mean the difference between life and death.

"The person with this type of training has so much more opportunity to go home that night and see their family than that person who shows up and doesn't really know what to do," Benjamin said.

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