Staying safe in swift water from someone who knows

Austin (KXAN) – The deadly floods we had in October are still a vivid memory. This being Flood Safety Awareness Week, first responders demonstrated some of their rescue methods on Saturday.

And the guest of honor is just glad to be here.

Flood waters are fast, dangerous, powerful and easy to underestimate.

Austin-Travis County EMS Captain Jim Martin knows first hand. He was trapped in his personal jeep last October with raging flood waters all around him.

“I kept telling myself if I hung on a little longer the sun would be coming up,” said Martin. “I could get an idea where I was and what my situation was. I knew I was up against a tree because I could see the silhouette of it.”

As those waters rose before the sun did, he finally climbed into the tree and waited for the helicopter that eventually rescued him.

Responders showed how they pull off daring rescues by land, boat and helicopter. Imagine doing this in the dark, under enormous stress and time pressures.

“It’s okay to be scared but it’s important not to panic,” said Martin. “To try to think if this happens that’s what I’m going to do, if that happens this is what I’m going to do. The key is not to panic, help is on the way. They’re coming.”

Martin says every crisis is different but try to calmly assess your situation and do what needs to be done. Best of all, avoid any low water crossings.

Austin is right in the heart of Flash Flood Alley and these disasters are no stranger here.

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