Fresno Bee Newsroom Blog

Sheriff’s sergeant develops river rescue training exercise

Tulare County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kevin Kemmerling has been named 2012 Tulare County Employee of the Year.

Kemmerling, 41, received the recognition for his role in eradicating illegal marijuana growing operations and developing a training exercise for river rescues.

He was selected from 130 nominations.

“The thing that separated Kevin from all of the others is his exceptional willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty,” Tulare County Board of Supervisors Chairman Pete Vander Poel said.

Kemmerling, of Springville, a former manager of The Springville Inn, volunteered for a search and rescue team and liked it so much he entered the police academy and was hired by the sheriff’s department.

Now he’s an expert at spotting illegal grow sites in mountainous areas from a helicopter.

For swiftwater rescue, he developed an approved training exercise in the proper use of a “throw bag,” or throwing a rope across a river so that someone in distress can grab it and safely drift to shore on the current.

He developed it for U.S. Forest Service employees and other river area first responders, making it less likely that a search and rescue team must be called out, Kemmerling said.

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