The Smith Park Aquatic Center was once a training site when the City of Los Angeles hosted the 1984 Summer Olympics. Today, the Aquatic Center still serves as a training facility, but for a different purpose.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department, Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) from Fire Station 103 frequent the facility to hone in on their life-saving skills under water. Fire Captain Darrick Woolever, one of the Station Captains at 103, and his team, fully equipped in scuba gear use the Aquatic Center to conduct emergency training exercises.

The purpose of the training is to provide USAR Team Members the opportunity to perform rescue and recovery operations from inland water ways, so when called upon to respond to a water rescue, the USAR Team will not have to rely solely on the County Lifeguards for help. This saves precious time during an emergency water rescue. In addition to this training, firefighters will be prepared for future emergencies, such as drownings in lakes, rivers, or water holding facilities.

“The goal of the exercise is to train and certify new fire operators up to Public Safety Divers, which is a skill set that we developed some years ago in conjunction with Los Angeles County Lifeguards”, said Captain Woolever.

The Smith Park Aquatic Center’s pool was selected due to the convenient location, its enormous size, and because of how the pool provided a place to effectively communicate and prepare while training in a clean, safe, and controlled environment.

According to Captain Woolever, “The USAR team has always maintained a very good relationship with the staff at Smith Park and the City of Pico Rivera which made it an easy decision.”

The USAR Team at Fire Station 103 is one of only two fully staffed USAR teams in Los Angeles County. The other USAR Team is located in the high desert City of Palmdale, which makes Fire Station 103 an invaluable asset to the City of Pico Rivera and the surrounding communities.


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