Baltimore County advanced tactical rescue teams planning for Hurricane Sandy

Leaders from Baltimore County’s advanced tactical rescue teams, including its swiftwater and marine units, will meet Saturday evening to devise an operation plan in anticipation of days of heavy rains and winds from Hurricane Sandy.

“We’re going to be looking at a multitude of scenarios,” Michael Robinson, division chief for emergency operations in the Baltimore County Fire Department said Friday.

The county’s career swiftwater rescue team is based out of Texas Station in Cockeysville, with additional swiftwater rescue teams operating out of the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Company and the Kingsville Volunteer Fire Company.

A dive rescue team operates out of Middle River, while the Bowleys Quarters and North Point-Edgemere volunteer fire companies boast marine rescue teams.

All other fire stations have members who are trained at an operations level who can assess scenes and throw rescue ropes until reinforcement crews arrive, Robinson said.

Robinson said the county’s geography, which stretches from the coastal wetlands in the southeast to elevations as high as 1,000 feet in northern Baltimore County “and everything in between,” presents a diversity of scenarios crews must plan for.

“When we’re looking at up to 12 inches of rain, anything can become a swiftwater situation,” Robinson said.

Robinson implored residents to avoid any water they see -- especially while driving -- should the storm dump a significant amount of rain on the area.

“People should never walk through standing water or moving water during storm times,” he said. “You don’t know the depth, and as little as 2 or 3 feet of water is enough to sweep you or your vehicle away.”

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