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Firefighters from around the valley donned helmets and life-jackets and jumped into the frigid, swift waters of Little Cottonwood Creek on Tuesday to practice rescuing each other for what could be a busy summer rescue season.
Murray Fire Capt. Joe Treadwell said with six fatalities in Utah rivers in the past few weeks, there is reason for heightened awareness.
"This year is especially important because of the high flow levels we are dealing with," Treadwell said.
Fire crews do swift-water training every year because constant training makes rescue efforts faster and more automatic.
"We haven't had any fatalities [this year] on the ones we have responded to in this area [Murray]," Treadwell said.
More than 30 firefighters from Unified, Midvale, Murray, West Valley City and Salt Lake City fire departments threw ropes to each other and dragged sopping wet flotation devices around the banks of the river while awaiting their chance to get in the water during the training.
Firefighters will continue their training over the next few weeks and have already saved the lives of five people in near-drownings around the valley this week, Treadwell said.
"We are expecting more people to get in the rivers. Regardless of how much safety advice we give them to stay out, some individuals still get in," he said.
Murray resident Robyn Ivins was taking her three children for their swimming lessons at Murray Aquatic Center when they saw the firefighters taking to the waters.
"When we showed up for swimming they were jumping in, so we had to stop and watch … because it was so cool to see them," she said. "It makes me think if my child dropped in, that they wouldn't be afraid to go after them, and that is what is great."
But that added sense of security from rescue crews doesn't stop her from still being concerned and lecturing her children to stay away from the fast rivers.
"The swift water makes me more terrified to have my kids by the water, because I think even if they are swimmers, if they are in there [the river] they are goners."
Ivins said she wants her children to be as prepared as they can be. So she starts her children with swimming lessons at the age of 3.
Dianna Henrie, of Murray, said she isn't even taking a chance in the Utah rivers this summer.
"I'm keeping my kids as far as I can [from the rivers] anyways, but it is very reassuring to see them out there training like this and know that there is help if we needed it."