As the Memorial Day kicked off, many citizens were enjoying the holiday weekend with friends, family, food, and most likely outdoor events. Many local Tri-County residents are now heading to the Yadkin River for fun as tubes, kayaks and canoes can be seen floating down the river most every Saturday and Sunday. The river has recently received more notoriety in being designated a “state trail”, thus increasing use of the river for recreation.
When accidents happen and folks are unable to complete their trips, local rescue squads come to the aid of those who are in need.
This past Saturday, members of four Northwest NC rescue squads, held a joint agency training session for when citizens have unforeseen issues arise while on the river. Personnel focused on fundamental skills while spending a day on the water. Members practiced river-style water boat operations, moving water victim rescues, and static based victim rescues.
The training served to get members familiar with the river topography and each agency’s equipment. In addition to the Elkin and Yadkin County squads, Wilkes Rescue Squad and Watauga County Rescue were on hand for the session.
“There is no substitute for time on the river, enhancing and refreshing your skills before that emergency call comes in. Today was a success in getting members ready for the summer river season,” said Jeff Hinshaw, chief of Yadkin County Rescue.
Watauga County Rescue Deputy Chief Steve LaPointe said their department also benefited from the training.
“We have the lake calls and urban flooding issues in Boone but not a large amount of moving bodies of water. Being able to come train on the Yadkin River will only serve to improve skills that we don’t use on a regular basis,” LaPointe said.
Wilkes Rescue Squad was on hand with their air boat, a specialized water rescue resource. Chief Cole Wyatt commented that the specialized air boat allows rescuers to cover a larger section of river faster than with traditional inflatable rescue boats. “Time is often of the essence if the patient is hypothermic or having other type medical emergencies.”
Jeff Whitaker, chief of Elkin Rescue added, “it’s always good to train with the folks you will be handling calls with on the river. Getting to know more about the river, the personnel and the equipment of our surrounding squads, like the Wilkes air boat, will only make the rescue operations more efficient.”
The three local rescue chiefs offered a few simple tips for those planning to enjoy water activities on the river this summer.
“If not going with a tubing outfitter, always check the flow of the river as traditional float times vary with the river’s level. Also, make sure you have a life vest available, a way to contact family or officials if something happens or your party is going to be overdue, and make sure someone knows your plan. Simple things like water shoes, sun protection and hydration are also important to the trip.”