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S.D. emergency personnel receive lessons for saving lives

ABERDEEN, S.D. Nine men from Aberdeen Fire and Rescue jumped into the pool one-by-one Monday at the Aberdeen Family YMCA, provoking stares from a nearby aquacise class.

While some of the firefighters and emergency medical technicians used the ladder, others created a bigger splash, sending water in every direction and producing laughs from their fellow employees.

While the water rescue training wasn't unusual for the men, the location was.

"We have class nearly every day in one regard or another," said Rob Senger of Aberdeen Fire and Rescue. "But (the pool) isn't the same as a classroom. This is a little bit more hands on."

It wasn't a typical work day for Aberdeen Fire and Rescue, but it certainly was valuable. The water rescue training might aid in a future rescue, Senger said. And it's always nice to update previous training.

"We try to do it at least once a year," he said. "I think it's good to go over the dos and the don'ts. Water rescue isn't something we do a lot."

On Monday, the nine men listened as Bruce Kleinsasser, a lifeguard instructor at the Y, reviewed old lessons and led the men through training. Another shift will go through the training today, while the last shift will do it Wednesday.

Although the training focused mostly on what firefighters and EMTs should do once they're in the water, Kleinsasser said that should be the last resort. If the rescue can be performed from land, that's the first option.

"The last thing you want to do is get in the water yourself," he said. "Find something that floats, anything that floats, and throw it out to them."

Kleinsasser watched as the employees of Aberdeen Fire and Rescue did just that, throwing out life jackets and buoys to their fellow co-workers out in the water before reeling them in.

When they got back in the water, Kleinsasser had a reminder. As the men flipped over pretend victims with ease, he brought the situation back to reality.

"Remember," Kleinsasser said, "normally, you'd have your clothes and your boots on. You'd be carrying a lot more weight."

Still, should a situation happen that would warrant someone having to perform a water rescue, the department will be ready, Senger said.

"This training is so valuable," he said. "When we have these refresher courses, it prepares us for what could happen."

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