Two East Tennessee fire departments joined with the National Park Service to practice swiftwater rescues in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Townsend Volunteer Fire Department and Blount County Fire Department trained with the National Park Service at the Sinks waterfall, which is ten miles southeast of Gatlinburg. The Sinks are known for their swift waters. Last year, a 17-year-old Florida girl died after she was swept over the 15-foot-waterfall.
"The type of incidents we have here are mostly foot entrapments, people slip and fall and go over the falls and then they get trapped underneath the water," said NPS Tennessee District Ranger Steve Kloster.
This was the first time the three departments decided to train together with swiftwater rescues. Townsend Volunteer Fire Department Chief Don Stallions said it was an important move, because it will help rescue crews assist victims in a quicker fashion later in the future.
"The biggest accomplishment is just learning to work as a team," he said.
According to the National Park Service, on average crews conduct two to three rescue operations at the Sinks each year.