December 31, 1998

Otay Water Board Recognized Rescue Team

Spring Valley — The Otay Water District Board of Directors has officially recognized members of the District's Confined Space Rescue Team. The team, comprised of District employees, trained extensively over the last year to become one of the few specialized rescue teams in the state. The rigorous training focused on recovering victims from underground pipelines, pipe galleries, vaults and other tightly-enclosed areas.

Few emergency response agencies such as fire departments, paramedics, etc. provide the specialized training needed to safely perform a confined space rescue. Otay is the only water agency in the county with a Confined Space Rescue Team. The team is also on-call to outside agencies, water districts and fire departments, for emergency assistance in performing a rescue from a confined space. "This is a part of this District's determination to be proactive," said Board President, Fernando Poveda. "We hope we never have to use them, but, it's reassuring to know we've got the best."

The members of the group volunteered for the Rescue Team and hold jobs at the District varying from utility worker to system operations superintendent. Receiving a Resolution of Appreciation were: Jason Cavender, Gerardo Chavarela, Brian Chisnell, Jim Gunstinson, Steve Kobler, Jerry Muñoz, Gil Rubalcava, Wayne Schoen, Jake Vaclavek and Tadeo Vasquez. "These volunteers are willing to risk their lives to save another. It shows the high level of commitment we have here at Otay," said Director, Tony Inocentes. "These are truly dedicated people."

Confined-space accidents resulted in over 300 deaths last year in the US alone. 60% of those who died were not the original victim —they were would-be rescuers. With the risk of suffocation and engulfment by invisible, deadly gases, rescuers must be able to recognize danger-signs, navigate small, narrow spaces, use emergency equipment and monitor their atmosphere— all while performing the rescue.

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