Training Exercise Gets Real

"When I didn't immediately pop up, they knew something was wrong."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some rookie firefighters got a taste of the real thing Tuesday during what was supposed to be a training exercise in Sylmar.

    The swift water rescue team was training in a concrete aquaduct when one of the trainers was pulled under about 5 feet of water.

    Firefighter Trainer Rescued From Aquaduct

    [LA] Firefighter Trainer Rescued From Aquaduct
    A group of 20 rookie firefighters and veterans rely on training to rescue a trainer. (Published Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010)

    "Believe me, it is gut wrenching to watch one of your fellow firefighters get put in harm's way and know he's in a bad spot," said LA City firefighter/trainer Tim Floor.

    Firefighter Dave Danielson was portraying a drowning person for trainees near the southern end of the Los Angeles Aqueduct when he went under for about 30 seconds.

    "When I didn't immediately pop up, they knew something was wrong," said Danielson. "I remember being under water. I probably cycled three times. It just goes to show what we tell everybody, which is exactly how dangerous these washes are.

    "(The rescue team) did what they're supposed to do."

    The rescue team included veteran firefighters and about 20 rookies. They threw him a floatation device and pulled him to safety.

    "The trainer himself was being taken out by the very firefighters he was training," said LA City Fire Department spokesman Steve Ruda.

    Danielson, an Iraq War veteran, said he hit his head and has short-term memory loss, but otherwise is doing OK. Authorities said  Danielson was conscious and breathing when he was airlifted to the hospital.

    "I feel good -- a little embarrassed," Danielson said.

    Deputy Chief Mario Rueda called Danielson one of the department's top instructors. He said firefighters will investigate to determine why it occurred.