September 19, 2022

Pacific Union College Welcomes Swift Water Rescue Equipment

US$40,000 donation has allowed students to train and practice white-water rescues.

Ashley Eisele, Pacific Union College.
[Photo: Pacific Union College/Pacific Union Conference]

Pacific Union College, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in Angwin, California, United States, recently received a gift of US$40,000 to purchase swift-water rescue equipment. The donation was made possible by Angwin Community Ambulance (ACA), a local ambulance service that was recently dissolved.

The organizations’ money made it possible to purchase new gear for the program. The gear included wetsuits, helmets, gear bags, and life jackets, as well as technical rope, rescue gear, and rescue-specific personal protective equipment, and other items.

Before being dissolved, ACA served the Angwin community for more than 40 years. During that time, many of PUC’s emergency services and emergency management students volunteered with the organization, providing emergency medical services throughout Angwin.

The ambulance service donated equipment to PUC in addition to sharing assets with other local groups that serve the community of Angwin.

Students recently conducted rescues in class 3 white-water conditions using a variety of techniques that included ropes, boats, and contact swimming. [Photo: Pacific Union College/Pacific Union Conference]

“Though ACA has dissolved, they still wanted to further their mission and serve the community,” Matthew Russell, PUC assistant professor of nursing and emergency services, said. “The donation of swift-water equipment and technical rope rescue equipment will allow the emergency management program to continue to provide excellent training opportunities to our majors, who in turn will use these skill sets to serve the Angwin community.”

The new equipment was put to use in early July when students attended a swift-water rescue course on the south fork of the American River near Coloma, California. 

Rescue courses are a requirement for emergency services students, but they are also available to all PUC students as general education courses. By the end of July’s course, students from emergency services, emergency management, nursing, pre-med, and psychology programs were conducting rescues in class 3 white-water conditions using a variety of techniques that included ropes, boats, and contact swimming.

“Students loved the new wetsuits, helmets, and personal flotation devices,” Russell said. “They wore them every day in the water. They provided protection from the environment and were very professional.”

Emergency management and rescue are fields that face rapid changes and require consistent innovation and creativity in the way they are taught. Quality, up-to-date equipment is a crucial part of that.

“This generosity will allow our emergency services and emergency management students to receive cutting-edge rescue courses and certification,” Russell said. “It increases our margin of safety and allows us the ability to show emerging rescue techniques with cutting edge equipment. Without quality gear we could not offer these courses. We are very thankful for the generosity that has been extended to us.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Pacific Union Conference news site.