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Search and Rescue Team Trains for Swift-Water Rescues

Members of the all-volunteer unit take advantage of recent rains to hone their skills

The Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue Team spent Sunday honing their swift-water rescue skills on the Santa Ynez River.

With the recent heavy rains, the river and creeks in the local mountains and passes are running well above normal, which presented the team a great training opportunity.

“We usually don’t get a lot of water here, so our practice time is limited, and when we do have water, we want to take every advantage to use it,” swift-water instructor Steve McNeil said.

Wearing full swift-water response gear, dry suits, personal flotation devices, helmets and gloves, the team practiced rescue swimming, shallow water crossing, throw bags and navigating the rapids.

The SAR team’s regularly scheduled training and certification is held in the late summer on the Kern River, where team members spend a full day in the classroom and two full days in the water.

The SAR team currently has 19 swift-water rescuers.

Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue is the all-volunteer mountain rescue unit of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

— Drew Sugars is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department.

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