Hollister, CA -- Late last night, a swift water rescue team made up of personnel from the Oakland Fire Department and seven other local agencies successfully rescued two adults whose truck became submerged in fast moving flood water in Hollister, CA.
At approximately 11:30 PM, on January 10, members of the Oakland Fire Department, who were deployed to Hollister, CA as part of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Swift Water Rescue Team, responded alongside other water rescue team members to reports of at least one vehicle carrying two adults in distress that had become overcome by flood water. The incident occurred in the immediate vicinity of 595 Hospital Road in Hollister.
After the vehicle became stuck and subsequently submerged in high water, the passengers found themselves trapped on top of the vehicle. The rescue team used multiple ladders and other technical rescue tools to reach the individuals and help the individuals to safety. The adult males who were rescued declined medical treatment but did not appear to be suffering from any injuries.
“This rescue, amidst extremely challenging conditions, is a testament to the training and professionalism of the team members, and the strong coordination that exists between the various agencies they represent,” said Oakland Fire Chief Reginald Freeman. “The technical skill and communication involved in the rescue was phenomenal, and I hope this incident is a reminder for everyone about the dangers of attempting to drive through powerful and unpredictable storm water.”
In one of the largest prepositioned events for a winter storm in state history, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is strategically deploying swift water resources and firefighting personnel to dozens of counties across the state. In addition, Cal OES also has prepositioned resources at eight fire departments statewide in advance of potential major flooding or debris flow.
The 16-person Swift Water Rescue Team is a Cal OES asset periodically called upon for incidents requiring technical rescue capacity and comprised of personnel from the following local agencies:
- Oakland Fire
- Alameda County Fire
- Fremont Fire
- Contra Costa County Fire
- Moraga Orinda Fire
- Hayward Fire
- Alameda City Fire
- San Ramon Valley Fire
Other agencies involved in last night’s rescue include Cal Fire, Hollister Fire Department, and the San Benito County Sheriff’s Department.
Many of the members of the Cal OES swift water team are also members of the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) CA-Task Force 4. David Watson of Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is the Task Force Leader for this current deployment.
The Cal OES Swift Water Rescue Team involved in last night’s rescue is one of two Cal OES units that were pre-positioned in Oakland on Sunday, January 8 at the request of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services in advance of the latest storm in the forecast. The other asset was a 4-person Type 3 Engine regularly deployed for wildland firefighting.
The swift water team was deployed to Hollister on Monday, January 9. At this time, their return date is unknown, as they continue to respond to storm related incidents and issues in the area.
“We take great pride in having highly skilled personnel who are prepared to quickly respond to a variety of emergencies or disasters in Oakland, around the state, and across the country,” said Chief Freeman.
The National Weather Service is forecasting more rain and snow over the next few days and into the weekend for the majority of California. Another round of storms also carries increased threat of major flooding in areas already saturated with heavy precipitation.
The public is urged to be on the lookout for potential flooding and mudslides in areas recently burned by wildfires. A debris flow can take homes off their foundations and carry items such as vegetation, large boulders, and cars. If you live near or downslope of burn areas, you should have a plan to quickly evacuate your community if flash flooding or a mudslide were to happen. Learn more about being flood aware here.
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