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Firefighter Okay After Near Drowning

Firefighter Okay After Near Drowning

Screen Capture of KTLA Coverage Video

Los Angeles County Fire Department

March 24, 2010

LOS ANGELES — A training exercise became a real life emergency Tuesday when veteran firefighter nearly drowned during a simulated rescue.

“Everything worked ,” said firefighter Dave Danielson, 40, outside a nearby hospital two hours after the mishap.

Danielson was portraying a drowning person for trainees at the Los Angeles Aqueduct, when he went under for about 30 seconds,

“I hit my head pretty good, in fact, I have short term memory loss,” said Danielson to reporters, with his family standing next to him at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in nearby Mission Hills.

The accident occurred at 2:25 p.m. at the at the Jensen Filtration Center, 14031 San Fernando Road, where the city’s drinking water from the Owens Valley flushes through storage dam at the adjacent San Fernando Reservoir.

“As I came out of the dam area, the instructors that were in the area and the firefighters did what they were supposed to do,” Danielson said.

Firefighters said their colleague was under the churning, cold water for about 30 seconds before they recovered him, not breathing, and began resuscitation. Meanwhile, a rescue helicopter revved up across the San Fernando Valley to ferry him to the hospital.

“I remember grabbing the line that they had thrown me, I remember the guys grabbing on to me, the next thing I knew is the helicopter crew was there, and I was in the back of the helo flying to Holy Cross,” he recounted. “Everything worked.”

Capt. Steve Ruda of the Los Angeles Fire Department said it is typical for a trainer to be in the water to play the role of the victim in such training exercises.

Ruda said that 900 people die in swiftwater rescuers across the country each year, and a third of those fatalities are rescuers themselves.