Stunned at what had transpired, Rigg’s began a one-woman campaign to prevent such an incident from happening again. She wrote letters and had meetings with various city and county politicians but it all was to no avail. As she later told the Los Angeles Times (October 17, 1997) no one took her seriously – “except for the Los Angeles County Lifeguards.” Several lifeguards worked closely with Rigg’s in what was then an unsuccessful effort to get area politicians to fund river and flood rescue programs.
Twelve years after her fiancé’s passing, a young teenager was swept down another rain-swollen flood channel. However, this time the victim’s plight was caught on live television. Efforts to save the life of fifteen-year-old Adam Bischoff proved futile as emergency responders were without the proper equipment or training to handle the situation. The teenager’s death sparked a large public outcry.
Based on the groundwork laid down by Ms. Riggs, area politicians quickly gave their blessings and then funded the creation of today’s well-known swiftwater teams.
The County of Los Angeles Fire Department staffs special swiftwater rescue teams in strategically located fire stations throughout Los Angeles County during and after extreme rainfall events. These teams are staffed by specially trained and equipped fire fighters and lifeguards to augment the Department's daily Urban Search and Rescue and Lifeguard staffing.
Swiftwater Rescue personnel are placed on the Department’s helicopters, as well as ground vehicles, to cover the Antelope Valley, Santa Clarita, San Gabriel Valley, Malibu, and all stretches of the Los Angeles River system in the Department’s jurisdiction.
Equipped with wet suits, personal flotation devices, helmets, and specially designed water rescue devices, the Department’s Swiftwater Rescue personnel have the ability to create land-based water rescue systems, as well as to perform water-based contact rescues, in order to save victims trapped in the many natural and man-made waterways in Los Angeles County.