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Fire crews make multiple rescues as Calgarians flock to the rivers

Last Updated Jun 28, 2021 at 6:23 am MDT

The Calgary Fire Department rescue boat patrols the Bow River as high water levels sparked an advisory in June. (PHOTO: Tom Ross, 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — It’s no surprise many hit the rivers around Calgary to escape the heat. However, the Calgary Fire Department (CFD) is out with a reminder to use caution and to be prepared for various events on the waterways.

Over a three-hour period on Saturday, there were multiple incidents on the Bow and Elbow rivers with rescue crews having to pick up stranded people on islands and banks without their water rafts as well as people who lost their boats due to capsizing.

“With the restrictions that have been in place, it’s been a great escape for people to get outside and float the river,” said CFD acting battalion chief Brad Thompson. “And with this extremely warm weather, it multiplies the the number of users on our waterways.

“Crews have been dealing with overturned rafts, rafts that are tied together and impacting on the bridge abutments or rocks, which is causing people to be dumped out of their raft.”

By law, it’s required to wear a life jacket when on the water. The fine for not wearing a life jacket is up to $500.

Other required equipment when boating, according to Thompson, includes a bucket or other bailing device, and a noise device to alert other people of your whereabouts.

“(People) must avoid consuming alcohol and other intoxicants on Calgary‚Äôs waterways,” CFD said.

Alberta Health Services medics and the CFD worked together to locate and evacuate a person with traumatic injuries near the Weaselhead area of the Elbow River.

According to a news release, the person was inaccessible by road or path and had to be evacuated by boat.

“If they’re on a riverbank and are able to contact somebody else to call 911, we’re able to get the water rescue team out to them as quickly as possible,” said Thompson. “If they’re on a bridge abutment, and they are safe, hold on for as long as they can until they are noticed. If members of the public do have to float down the river, it’s important to go feet first and keep their feet up to protect themselves.”

The CFD also located and rescued a young fawn near Harvie Passage that was struggling in the current. The fire department said the animal was taken into care by animal services in good condition.