BILLINGS – With rising floodwaters threatening homes in different parts of Montana, the Billings Fire Department is trying out new jet skis to help in future river rescues.
Responders trained this week on the personal watercraft donated by ExxonMobile. The machines will aid in swift water rescue and allow responders to access back channels and islands, firefighters said.
Two days of training were held at Lake Elmo, practicing driving and patient pickup skills. The final day was spent on the Yellowstone River, practicing maneuvering in current patient pickups.
This prepares them for assisting both conscious and unconscious individuals by getting them on the rescue boards and back to safety.
The department uses dry suits, which are able to be worn on top of uniforms, helmets, and flotation devices capable of holding 600 pounds.
“During this time of year we’ve got a lot of debris and swift currents and it may catch people off guard. And if something does happen with these personal watercraft, it will make a quicker response to try and help somebody who is in need,” Greg Roper of the Billings Fire Department said.
Reporting by Jenny Fick for MTN News