Metro first responders train for swift-water rescues at Worlds of Fun

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You've probably taken your kids to this place before, maybe it's even a tradition. It's an attraction that metro first responders are using too, but not necessarily with fun as the focus. Megan Dillard joined KCFD and other agencies as they used Worlds of Fun as a training ground for swift-water rescues.

"It’s pretty challenging, everybody goes home tired at 4 o’clock," KCFD Battalion Chief Larry Young said.

Several dozen firefighters and officers used the water at the Fury of the Nile to simulate swift water rescues.

"It keeps us sharp on our skills and we try different things, new techniques and things like that to always try to get better," Young said.

For some trainees, Tuesday's training was the first time.

"When we took the first few trips around, they kind of realize that holy cow, this is a lot tougher than they thought," said Young.

KCK firefighter Chad Brown has enjoyed the ride before; he grew up in Kansas City. He said it's a different vantage point from in the water.

"When I explain it to family members and friends, you know, that ride you ride around in a 500,000 pound raft, I’m going down in just a life jacket and a helmet," he said.

Josh Zeplin said the real-life simulation is critical in his work on a KCPD tactical team.

"The hardest part of training, whether it’s the police side or fire side, is getting that realistic environment to train in," he said.

Young said the training is critical when the need is real: "Sometimes they may feel it may be for naught, that they’re just training all the time, but when events like Houston and the flooding that we’ve had here locally occur, that’s when they put their skills to work."

The first responders train at Worlds of Fun once a year for the entire month of September.