All 14 California swift water rescue teams deployed, first time in 6 years

Swift water is deadly dangerous within its own banks; even more so when it overflows and breaches its banks.

At the Marin County Fire's Woodacre Station, a state-sponsored swift water rescue team is getting ready to leave for Hopland, just south of Ukiah in Mendocino County.

They are standing by for any overflow of Russian River tributaries and the river itself. 

"We're gonna basically head up there as one of the state teams because that's been identified as kind of one of the biggest areas of risk," said Battalion Chief Graham Groneman of the Marin Swift Water Rescue Team. "The first impact [is] typically in the areas of the river or creeks that are higher on the hill and so those will start to flood," said Groneman.

Upriver communities are likely to see the first flooding. 

"We have technical rope rescue equipment, boats, jet skis, paddle boats, search equipment, and so really, these teams are made up of folks that are cross-trained in all these other disciplines," said Groneman.


As the dangers abate in one place and spread to others, they will be moved. 

"We are light, we are fast, we are mobile to redeploy to different areas to address those issues," he said.

California swift water rescue team

This is the first time since 2017 that all 14 of the state's swift water rescue teams have been deployed at the very same time; taking this weather very seriously.

Assisted by local first responders, these 14 teams are the spearhead of getting to flood victims before the flood gets them wherever they are. 

"Wanting to assure that the right resources are in the right places at the right time," said Groneman.

As the weather continues, the level of the Russian River will continue to rise until it hits the Guerneville narrows. Afterwards, it'll empty into the Pacific at Jenner-the end of the river's 1500 square mile watershed.