River Rescues Up As Summer Season Approaches

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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The summer season is just around the corner and already calls for help and actual rescues are up this year.

Of course no two rescues are the same. It's why 6 agencies from the Midlands hit the water Friday to make sure they have a timely and safe plan to get the next stranded person out alive.

"It is very labor intensive. It's not a one or two unit response," said Jason Krusen, Special Operations Chief for the Columbia Fire Department. "It's more the recreational person coming to hang out on the rocks and in the river and maybe they're not as prepared."

Krusen says the last three weekends have been busier than usual. Departments have helped at least 20 people get out of the Congaree over the last 3 weeks.

"Not just any responder can put on a life jacket, get out and jump in the water," Krusen said. "We have to make sure they're properly trained."

The training was planned months ago and local paddlers were called in to play the role of 'victim'.

While no one was in actual danger, responders didn't know what the scene would look like when they were called.

"It's definitely important that we give a sense of realism," Krusen said.

In Friday's training, 6 Midlands agencies participated. The collaboration started about a year ago because portions of the river flow through their respective jurisdictions.

Water rescues take more money and more resources from departments.

Local paddlers, known to frequent the river, help in rescues too. They're included on training, so when it's not a drill, everyone gets out safely.

"A lot of times they can help affect a rescue well before we ever get on scene which is fine," Krusen said. "At the end of the day, that person gets out of a situation and on shore safely."

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