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Crews rescue motorists in Pahrump floods

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue crews were dispatched Friday to the area of southbound Highway 160 between mile markers 35 and 32 for swift-water rescues following heavy flooding from thunderstorms.

The storms brought the second accumulation of more than 2 inches of rain in the valley in as many weeks.

“There was reports of numerous motorists stranded and in one case, there were two emergency responders trapped on top of their emergency response vehicle in the midst of a literal torrent of water on Highway 160 crossing over the median,” Chief Scott Lewis. “The water was filled with debris including boulders, cacti and other gravel debris from the mountains.”

Lewis said crews established a rescue plan to save the entrapped motorists stranded in water along Highway 160, where rescuers established a command center.

They utilized a front-end loader to affect the rescues, which also included several other emergency responders who arrived on scene.

“Due to its size and weight, it allowed us to get close to the vehicles that were being swamped out, and also rescue the emergency responders who crawled up over their truck and down across the cab onto the windshield and into the big bucket on the front end loader ” Lewis said. “Once they were rescued, we then did the same approach rescuing several stranded motorists including four adults and two dogs.”

On Highway 160 near mile marker 32, a motorist was swept off the roadway in his vehicle, and was outside and tumbling within the wash.

That person was rescued and brought to crews where they medically assessed him. Once the waters became a bit more manageable, Lewis said then sought to go out and move the stranded emergency response vehicles, on the highway.

“We needed to get the apparatuses to a safe area and we then went into a de-escalation mode until the roadway could be better managed by heavy equipment, in order to clear pathways for the other trapped motorists,” said Lewis, who noted the situation was life-threatening.

“While they were out there protecting an area of stranded motorists, the water grew so quickly that they had no other chance and no time to escape out of it, other than getting on top of their vehicles, so that’s how quick it was. We were out there for numerous hours while the roadway was closed.”

Road closures

Lewis also said that U.S. 95 and other area roadways in and around Nye and Clark Counties were subsequently closed due to the weather conditions.

“We had alot of swiftwater type of rescue issues on that evening, where some presented again on Saturday, but not to the same extent,” he noted, “There were a few injuries but they were all minor and all declined to be medically transported.”

Proper planning and coordination between local agencies did not disrupt patient transfers to Las Vegas area hospitals, Lewis said.

“We worked closely with Desert View Hospital, in order to ensure that patient care was continued until we could identify which roadways would be open for the transfers.”

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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