River training for Asotin County Firefighters

ASOTIN, WA - The maritime divisions of local emergency responders now work together on the Snake River.

They've started to cross-train on each others' boats for added safety measures.

Firefighter in training Jodi Moss ventured out onto the river for her third and most likely final round of up-river training. Moss handled the boat on her own, with little instruction from Assistant Fire Chief Mike Hohman.

"The upriver navigation of the boat is important so that our operators are aware of where the channels are and the underwater hazards," said Hohman.

Moss took us upriver noting shallow areas and making sure to steer the boat correctly in the narrow channel. Hohman proudly noted she is currently the only female firefighter who is trained on the boats, and that she's a natural.

"It was scary at first but it's actually pretty easy once you figure it out," said Moss.

Hohman said it takes roughly nine hours of training to be completely independent on the boat but some take longer than others. He said it's important for his crew to know how to properly handle the boat in rough areas of the river in case there is ever an emergency in a location that is only accessible by water.

"We promote safety of operation of boats and we should start with our own personnel," said Hohman.

"Learning how to navigate through rapids so that you aren't hitting rocks or any other obstacle," said Moss.

After a couple hours of practice, she brought us back to Swallow's Nest Park where she docked the boat with ease, a skill she said took her all winter to master. She hopped out of the boat until next time, where she'll navigate the river on her own.

Hohman said the Asotin County Sheriff, Fire and Nez Perce County Sheriff's Offices will conduct more training throughout the summer, including diving and rescue drills.