Stephen Ellison

Swift-Water Rescue Team From Menlo Park FD Sent to Chico

Crew dispatched to assist with any rescues needed from Oroville Dam spillover flooding

A swift water rescue team from the Menlo Park Fire District was dispatched to Chico late Sunday night to assist people in the event of mass flooding from the Oroville Dam spillover.

The team of 15 firefighters left about 10 p.m. after the state Office of Emergency Services asked them to respond to the threat of flooding near Oroville.

The firefighters are trained in swift water rescue. They packed up boats, jet skis and rescue gear and began the four-hour drive to get to the fairgrounds near Chico, which is serving as a staging area for evacuees.

"They have extensive swift-water 1 and 2 training," Menlo Park fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said about the team. "Some are trained in use of helicopters, others boat operators, jet ski operators, a variety of skills on the team."

Some of the team members have experience responding to flooding in Yuba City in 1997, when they rescued 12 people from the water.

Schapelhouman said the last time all the swift-water teams in the state were sent to a large-scale rescue was during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

The teams are also bringing drones to help spot any possible victims in the water. There was no indication for when the Menlo Park team will return home.

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