All-hazard rescue reminders for every fire department

Chiefs need to take a training posture that focuses additional efforts on swift water responses

This article originally appeared in the June 5, 2018 issue of the Fire Chief Leadership Briefing.

What happened: More than 8-inches of rain fell in a few hours in historic Ellicott City, Maryland on May 27. A confluence of geography and development makes the area, which was waterlogged from recent rainfall, prone to rapid flooding. Video showed fast-moving water rushing over and past the second floor of buildings on Main Street.

Fire and EMS departments, as well as swift water rescue teams, from throughout the region responded. 911 call recordings tell harrowing real-life stories of people stranded on upper floors of buildings, the streets below them a raging river.

This was Ellicott City’s second “1,000-year flood” in the past two years. In July 2016, the same Main Street of the historic community was devastated by similar flooding. Parts of town had just finished rebuilding before this most recent flooding.

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