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Dear Ron,
That is a really nice idea: The address for the memorial fund is: Unionville Volunteer Fire Company Memorial Fund, c/o Citizen's national Bank, 196 Clearview Circle, Butler 16001.  I can't imagine that they wouldn't pass any cards on to the F.D.
The very first heated discussion this group had, two years ago, was about moving water operations. We had some postings that teams were diving in 20 knots. That number lessened to 6-12 knots when we asked if they understood that a knot was 100 feet per minute. I think it was Slim Ray who stated that a firefighter is ten times more likely to die in a swiftwater incident than in a fire based on hour per hour (if I got that wrong, please someone correct me).
What we repeatedly say that unless you have a proven, tested plan on how you are going to get an entrapped/entangled diver or surface person out of swiftwater then stay out of it. It is so unbelievable that lives are lost like this for a dead body. Risk Benefit analysis - is it the nature of the Rescue Beast that makes us lose sight of R/BA or is it just lack of knowledge of the risks? The Beast tells us that we will survive - that we are invincible. If any rescuer knew he/she was going to die - how many would go in? Deep down we believe we will survive it.
So many people have lost their lives this way. The Binghamton incident being one of the greatest visual tragedy of this kind that many educators use to analyze and help fight the Rescue Beast. It showed that a massive amount of manpower doesn't make a difference, except possibly result in more lives lost.
Take Ohio River Rescue, PA River Rescue, Indiana River Rescue, Rescue 3, Dive Rescue, Lifeguard Systems... and no less than a score more training agencies, preaching the gospel and it may not be unreasonable to suggest that we are only teaching, educating, making aware, less than 20% of the people that might lose their lives in swiftwater in the name of public safety.
What can be done to stop it? Most likely nothing? The Rescue Beast will exist in the children of our children. These future public safety people  will continue to belive that youth, strength and goodness will prevail. Perhaps if there was ever an idealistic direction that we should all unite in, that would be a poster campaign for every firehouse, every police station, every EMS squad, graphically demonstrating that if you're not sure you know, don't go. Even with the best training we can't guarantee that we're not going to lose someone. I believe we all know that and agree with that. But we also all know that when you don't know, the potential is that eventually we will lose someone.
RIPTIDE will guarantee $1 for every $3 raised, up to $1,000, to make and send such a poster. We would like this to be a joint effort so as many different training agencies and equipment manufacturers can be listed at the bottom of the poster - to show that this is one issue we all agree on - and therefore it is a critically important issue that should be heeded!
If you would like to help with this project: raise funds, find a good photograph, find a printer, plan the mailing, find sponsors, etc. please contact us directly at and (please try both).
We look forward to hearing from you.
Stay safe!
Butch and Andrea

For additional information about Murdick and Wilson.
For additional coverage on this story please visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
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