Swift Water and Dive Rescue Team
The SFD Swift Water and Dive Rescue Team, located at Engine Company 6, rescues citizens trapped or injured in the surrounding waterways. Approximately 1,000 miles of waterways surround the City of Stockton. These waterways are used year round by boaters and during the summer, the numbers can increase to the hundreds on any given day.
Since its start in 1993, the Water Rescue program has grown from a few Swift Water Technicians to a fully operational Surface and Dive Team who can provide advanced cardiac life support.
The Water Rescue Team is staffed 24 hours a day with a 3-person crew assigned to both Engine 6 and the Water Rescue Unit. The Team has a support vehicle known as Water Rescue 6, a 1996 Chevy 1 ton heavy-duty crew cab with:
- four sets of complete diving gear, additional tanks, and a surface supplied air cart,
- an inflatable boat with mounted on top of the vehicle, and
- all the support equipment for a surface or dive rescue.
The Stockton Fire Water Rescue Team averages 30-35 responses a year for surface and dive rescues. The response times, within the city limits, are usually 5-10 minutes from call to entry into the water and calls out of Stockton can vary from 10-20 minutes.
The Stockton Fire Water Rescue Team deals only in a rescue mode. They have two volunteer dive teams available to handle recovery.
The team responds with two members dressed in full dive gear and two members in support positions. In route, the two members in dive gear decide who is primary and back up. The back up diver is the primary surface rescuer.
The standard response for a water rescue call includes Water Rescue 6, a Battalion Chief, and Truck 3, a technical rescue truck. The Water Rescue Team works closely with the Technical Rescue Team. These two Teams, along with the Hazardous Materials Team, make up the Stockton Fire Department Special Operations Team and many members are crossed trained in all disciplines.
The Stockton Fire Department is a permanent State Certified Rescue Systems and Confined Space training site with multiple state-certified instructors.
The Team currently has three Dive Rescue International Swift Water Instructors. The Team takes frequent training trips to Sacramento River to stay current.
Each member on the Team is also trained to the Dive Rescue International standard of Dive Rescue 1 and many are trained to Dive Rescue 2. These training dives are made in the Delta waterways, the University of the Pacific Aquatics Center and area lakes and rivers within the area including trips to Monterrey Bay.
Prior to this training, Water Rescue Team candidates must first go through a rigorous screening process that includes:
- a written exam based on the Water Rescue Standard Operating Procedures,
- a physical exam with swim tests that requires being in the water for 60-90 minutes, and
- an verbal board by current Water Rescue Team members.
If a candidate passes all these phases, he or she is then taught the standards to be Swift Water Rescue Technician 1.
The Stockton Fire Department has standardized the swift water and dive gear including:
- Viking dry suits and Scuba Pro wet suits,
- Interspiro AGA full-faced mask with GILL snorkel,
- redundant supply valve (RSV), and Mark 7 hard wire communications,
- buoyancy compensators (BC's), regulators, and gauges,
- AGAs with the wireless Buddy Communications,
- surface supplied air cart with 200 feet of hose (in case a diver becomes trapped and needs an unlimited supply of air until rescue), and
- gas-powered SCUBA cylinder filling station, capable of filling both low pressure and high-pressure cylinders.
This City of Stockton web page last reviewed on --- 6/25/2015