Fifty firefighters recently honed their swift water rescue skills at The Spillway, where the Mojave River flows over the Mojave River Forks Dam near Arrowhead Lake Road in Hesperia.


On Thursday, Feb. 24, about 15 firefighters, engineers and captains from the mountain and desert regions demonstrated what they had learned.


They showed their shallow water crossing skills by slowly, carefully making their way through a channel of moderately flowing water. After making their way upstream, the firefighters practiced floating downstream. Later, they used a rope to "rescue" one another in an open an unexpectedly dangerous eddy at Lowhead Dam below the spillway.


"We do this every year to make sure our skills stay high," according to Battalion Chief Jim Johnstone.


Each of the participants received their initial training at the Kern River.


Earlier this winter county firefighters rescued drivers from fast-flowing water currents at Rock Springs Road. Altogether 80 rescues were performed countywide over the past few months, said county fire spokeswoman Tracey Martinez.


"Swift water rescue is the most dangerous form of rescue we perform because of the unknowns," Johnstone said.