The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Swift Water Rescue Team participated in the 11th annual Swiftwater Rodeo at the Saguaro Lake Ranch on the Salt River north of Phoenix recently.
Pictured is the Cochise County SAR team with the traveling trophy. Team members were back row, left to right, Roy Cook, Ursula Ritchie, David Noland, Ken Kelley. Front row left to rght, Eric Brooks, Bill Jordan and Jamie Ritchie. Not pictured is Scott Schneeweis. Submitted Photo
The Rodeo had six events that the team had to complete in 30 minutes.
The first was a swimming relay where team members had to swim across the river, pick up either a victim or equipment, and then swim back. Once all team members were back with victims or equipment, a 3-1 haul system had to be setup and a stokes basket with a rescue dummy had to be pulled up a hill from the river.
The second event was a kayak paddling course where team members had to paddle a kayak in a “barrel race” pattern in either a single or 2 person kayaks.
The third event was boat handling where all team members were in an inflatable raft which they had to paddle a course and rescue 4 victims out of the water. Extra credit on this event was to blindfold all team members except for the boat captain who directed the paddling through the course with voice commands.
The fourth event was a throw bag rescue where 4 team members had to throw a rescue rope to victims floating down the river and 2 team members were then tethered to a rope and had to swim out a rescue victims in the water.
The fifth event was a tethered boat where team members had to setup an inflatable boat on a high line across the river while 2 team members had to swim across the river pulling a rescue rope, and then 2 ropes were attached to each side of the boat. Victims were put into the river, and then 2 members on each side of the river had to pull the boat back and forth across the river to line the boat up with the victims so the 2 team members in the boat could grab them and pull them into the boat.
The sixth event was a scenario where 4 teenagers were stuck on a small island after attempting to float down a flooded river. One victim had a back injury, two were uninjured and the one was stuck on a log in the fast moving current. All victims had to be successfully rescued and brought back across the river.
The Cochise SAR Swiftwater Team placed first in 3 of the events and was the only team to successfully complete the scenario and swimming relay events. The combination of these events and outcomes is what put the team into first place and to ultimately win the competition. Although the Cochise SAR Team has participated in this event for the past eight years, this is the first time they have won.
Sheriff Dever is proud of the efforts put forth by these members of our organization and we look forward to keeping the trophy again next year.