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First of Its Kind Swift-Water Rescue Training Center Opens in Austin

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As Fathom Academy says on their website, they “train heroes.” This new facility in north Austin, Texas uses a state of the art pool that can mimic the temperature, unpredictable nature, and frightening rise and flow of water that first responders might encounter during a swift-water rescue situation.

“We tailor everything as best we can — environmentally, psychologically — to allow people to run through scenarios in a safe, controlled environment so that we can give them the better chance of rescuing people and surviving,” Fathom Academy’s CEO Barton Bollfrass told KXAN.

First responders will use the facility, which is said to be the first of its kind, to complete as many practice-runs as they need to feel more comfortable with saving someone in a flooded environment. So far, the Austin and Pflugerville Fire Department and the Hawaii National Guard have trained at Fathom Academy.

Not only can these trained first responders help save other people’s lives, they also learn how to keep themselves safe. Fathom Academy points out on their website that a heartbreaking “…31% of deaths in swiftwater rescues [are] the first-responders themselves.” Hopefully, with the increased level of training, that number can become lower and lower as awareness spreads about the dangers of flooding.