Fresno County's Search and Rescue team took a dive in the valley’s fast-moving, cold canals Thursday, to train for the deadly season.
Crews are averaging 20 rescues a week, so they train for emergencies regularly.
Deputies and volunteers are equipped with rescue rafts, ropes, and kickboards.
They head straight for the churning white rapids suited up from head to toe.
Fresno County Sgt. Homer Montalvo says rescues turn into recoveries in the blink of an eye.
“A lot of what causes problems in the water are hidden objects that people get trapped against and they can't escape of course. You can be an excellent swimmer and get into trouble very fast,” he says.
Last year, a rescuer clung to a tree in the middle of the Merced River after deputies plucked out 3 people inner-tubing in the turbulence. But sometimes, it’s too late.
Crews plucked 6 bodies out of local rivers this year alone. Dozens last year, including 2 drownings.
It is illegal to swim in canals.
The water is just as dangerous for rescue crews wearing life-saving gear.