PCFD Tests Water Rescue Plan - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

PCFD Tests Water Rescue Plan

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The Panama City Fire Department is testing out a revised plan to save a distressed swimmer who has fallen over the Hathaway Bridge.

It's more than a 60 foot drop, but if you're not harnessed in and trained, it can be a life or death situation.

"We had an incident in the past where a guy had jumped off the bridge. When it's in the center of the channel, it's too far to swim from either bank. So we've come up with a plan to be able to drop a rescuer close to the victim," says Captain Shawn Boyett with the Panama City Fire Department.

For three days, the PCFD has been testing and tweaking the plan. "What we were able to find is some of the assumptions we had on paper didn't really work, so what we did was we modified some of those assumptions," says Chief Wayne Watts. "This is a low stress situation so it gives us a fair safe environment to make those adjustments."

While these firefighters are highly trained with height, this is a bit different.

"We've done a lot of repelling doing a high angle rescue and training. It's a little different because we're not landing on dry land. We're actually coming into the water," says Captain Eric Stiffler.

This plan allows the rescuers to reach the distressed individual until the boat gets there.