Delphin is a K9 service dog trained in detecting human remains in the water. Delphin is pictured here on a 
training day at Cherryville on the Shuswap River Tuesday, April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Delphin is a K9 service dog trained in detecting human remains in the water. Delphin is pictured here on a training day at Cherryville on the Shuswap River Tuesday, April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

West Kelowna firefighters make a splash in North Okanagan

Swift water rescue training brings team to Cherryville’s Shuswap River

Just one day after the Okanagan’s first drowning of 2021, local firefighters are making a splash with water rescue skills.

A team from West Kelowna Fire Rescue spent three days this week on the shores of and in the Shuswap River at Cherryville. Under the direction of Raven Rescue’s Karsten von Hoesslin, the team is now Swiftwater Rescue Technician certified.

But the Vernon-based instructor wasn’t the only one teaching. His trusty companion Delphin was a stark reminder of why a large number of people end up in the water.

“We have so many swiftwater fatalities in the province linked to pet rescue. Owners panicking and trying to help their pets,” von Hoesslin said.

“So I try to use her for scenarios where we do the harnesses and rescue techniques and also demonstrate how animals swim.”

Delphin (named after Delphinius) is a K9 service dog who is trained in detecting bombs and human remains in the water and she is an avalanche dog up at Silver Star, where von Hoesslin is an avalanche forecaster. He is also the in-house instructor for Vernon Search and Rescue. Delphin once even discovered a body during a training session with von Hoesslin in California.

She’s also travelled the world with his owner, who has taken part in a multitude of events, including rescuing civilians who were held captive by pirates for 10 months.

Training on the Dancing Rock Rapids this week, the firefighters learned about the various rescue options, plus tips and tricks, for both animals and humans.

With spring coming in hot and more people drawn to the water, the chance fire crews may need these skills is becoming greater.

The team also rolled into the North Okanagan just one day after the Okanagan’s first drowning. A 53-year-old man swimming in Okanagan Lake near Penticton on April 19 was pulled to shore by a bystander who saw him showing signs of distress. The man died in hospital.

READ MORE: Penticton man drowns swimming in Okanagan Lake

Training in the chilly spring waters of the river gave the crew true hands-on experience as they practised different swimming techniques, throwing ropes to members in the water and pulling others to safety.

“It’s a really nice mix of fast class one and then rapid water as well,” von Hoesslin said of the training location.

Each of the 40 firefighters at the West Kelowna department goes through the training annually, as members provide technical rescue for the region (which includes Westside Road).

“We don’t have to use it very often, but when you do have to use it, you want to be good at it,” assistant chief of training Lionel Bateman said.

Last year, the West Kelowna members rescued a girl from Glen Canyon Creek.

READ MORE: ‘I just sank a car’ Revelstoke woman wants Columbia River better protected


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

firefightersrescueWater

 

West Kelowna firefighters practice swiftwater rescue techniques in the Shuswap River in Cherryville April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

West Kelowna firefighters practice swiftwater rescue techniques in the Shuswap River in Cherryville April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Karsten von Hoesslin, Raven Rescue instructor from Vernon, leads a swiftwater rescue technician course under the trees in an outdoor classroom in Cherryville for the West Kelowna Fire Department Tuesday, April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Karsten von Hoesslin, Raven Rescue instructor from Vernon, leads a swiftwater rescue technician course under the trees in an outdoor classroom in Cherryville for the West Kelowna Fire Department Tuesday, April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Karsten von Hoesslin, Raven Rescue instructor from Vernon, leads a swiftwater rescue technician course under the trees in an outdoor classroom in Cherryville for the West Kelowna fire department Tuesday, April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Karsten von Hoesslin, Raven Rescue instructor from Vernon, leads a swiftwater rescue technician course under the trees in an outdoor classroom in Cherryville for the West Kelowna fire department Tuesday, April 20. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Just Posted

File photo (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Overturned kayak in Mission Creek prompts police response

Kelowna RCMP is looking to speak with anyone who may know the individual associated with the kayak

A drug bust on Government Street in Duncan on Tuesday, March 30, led to a "substantial seizure" according to the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP. (File photo)
Search continues for diver who went missing in Okanagan Lake

Search and rescue, RCMP underwater recovery team looking for diver missing since Saturday afternoon

Rutland Senior Secondary (Barry Gerding/Black Press)
UPDATE: List of Kelowna school COVID-19 exposures expands

School District 23 says two more schools have been exposed to the virus

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Penticton city parks staff were busy this week using the beach grater to sift through sand, getting the shores ready for beach season. When it comes to beach clean up they are collecting run-off debris, pulling weeds and picking up litter. (Penticton photo)
Hottest day of the year, so far, in the South Okanagan

Penticton city park staff cleaned up the beaches getting ready for the season

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
B.C. boy receives medal of bravery, scholarship for rescue of child at Shuswap beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

This is what the glowing boulders look like at night at 28 Huth Ave. (Submitted)
PHOTOS: Glowing boulders popping up in the Okanagan

Local landscaper Brandon Messier also brought the Lost statue to its new home

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Coldstream Fire Department is on-scene Sunday, May 16, battling a fire in a Matner Lane orchard just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Okanagan fire crew tackles orchard blaze

Fire broke out just before 2 p.m. on Matner Lane, which is just up the hill from the Coldstream firehall on Aberdeen Road

Someone or something is vandalizing birdhouses built and erected along Salmon Arm’s Foreshore Trail, much to the chagrin of a Shuswap biologist who looks after the houses. All but one of 32 along the trail are occupied. (Facebook photo)
Ongoing birdhouse vandalism rocks Shuswap trail, groups

Eight more boxes were destroyed Saturday, May 15

Most Read