Butte County CAL FIRE and the California Army National Guard held joint water rescue training exercises April 17 on the Feather River near the boat ramp in Gridley.

The training involved teams of water rescuers and helicopters from CAL FIRE and the California Army National Guard, and included CAL FIRE rescue teams that travel throughout California participating in a week long advanced water rescue training.

An island on the river was turned into the fictitious town of “Nino”, where responders completed a series of rescues, evacuations, and prepared simulated victims for transportation to safety.

“By doing this we’re training for the worst-case scenario,” said CAL FIRE Engineer Nick Salas. “We’re trying to figure out how to deploy the teams, grab the victims and bring them back to shore safely.”

Some CAL FIRE personnel arrived on “Nino” by helicopter then proceeded to rescue stranded “victims” by boat, while other responders arrived in open water by helicopter to rescue the staged victims.

The training was designed to help rescue workers prepare for events, such as a flood, that could be likely to happen, as well as enhance the level of training for both rescuers and pilots, and increase the interoperability between agencies.

The California Highway Patrol, Department of Water Resources and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife also assisted in the training exercises.