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Firefighters eager to help Bolivian comrades


Firefighters form a band of brothers all over the world, and Scott Carlson and Toby Hays will be proving it.

by: SUBMITTED - Toby Hays and Scott Carlson, shown on a water rescue training exercise, are getting ready to help firefighters in Bolivia.The two Lake Oswego firefighters leave Feb. 16 for a 10-day trip to Bolivia to help some brother firefighters who badly need the training and expertise that Carlson and Hays can provide them about water rescue. They also need the equipment and supplies the two firefighters will be bringing with them.

This won’t be a vacation in any way. Carlson and Hays are giving up their own vacation time to go to Bolivia.

“I’m excited about it,” said Carlson, who will be making his first trip to South America.

The Bolivians will be getting a couple of true experts in Carlson and Hays, who are members of the Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium and Global Mission Readiness, a program originated by Clackamas County firefighters. The need for water rescue readiness in Bolivia is huge.

“Bolivia is a nation of 2 million people and it only has a volunteer fire department,” Carlson said. “They have a really bad problem with flash floods with the Santa Cruz River. It’s one of the poorest nations in the world. They don’t even have a fire station. The GMR has really taken them under its wing.”

Carlson, Hays and other Clackamas County firefighters have been working for nine months to gather equipment, donations and funds. Carlson says the effort is ongoing because a lot more money and equipment is needed.

Carlson said, “This is a great opportunity to use our water rescue skills to help train and outfit safety equipment to the Bolivian firefighters.”

Joining Carlson and Hays on the trip will be three Clackamas County water rescue team members — Pat Delair, Scott Walker and Capt. Don Davis.

For more about the Lake Oswego Fire Department and its efforts to aid other fire departments, go to ci.oswego.or.us/fire.