Emergency responders train for water rescues at Six Flags

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EUREKA, MO (KTVI)-- More than 25 emergency responders are spending four days at Six Flags in Eureka, not for fun, but for intensive water rescue training.

And while these exercises were scheduled far in advance of the Colorado floods, that disaster has made these drills all the more meaningful.

It`s not the easiest way to learn about swift water rescues, but it`s the most realistic, thanks to the thundering waters of the Thunder River ride.

"The first few times going down this, it has been kind of crazy," said Lt. Bobbie Liveoak, a firefighter at Fort Leonard Wood. "You don`t really know unless you experience it."

The course is taught by the University of Missouri and involves emergency workers from all over the state.

"The first time, it`s an eye opener," said instructor Les Crewes. "The people who thought they were good swimmers come out here and find out they are not as good as they think they are."

The class gets progressively harder each day.

On Monday, they were leaning what to do when pinned against something in rushing water.

It is something they take deadly serious, because it can be seriously deadly.

"You always have that chance you could get hurt here and even though it is under a controlled training atmosphere you still have a possibility of getting hurt so the adrenaline is still pumping," said Liveoak.

On average, almost 100 people die in flood related accidents in the
U.S. every year. That`s more than the average for tornados and lightning, which is why emergency responders want you to take flash flooding as seriously as they do.

"We want them to learn what to do to use the water to their advantage and not fight it because they are going to lose that battle," Crews said.

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