As the temperatures start to go up with the impending summer heat, many local Tri-County residents may be heading to the Yadkin River for fun and to escape the heat. In recent years, kayaks and canoes have joined the staple of tubes that float down the river most every Saturday and Sunday.
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 Elkin Rescue Squad and Yadkin County Rescue Squad, held a joint agency training session for when citizens get in “over their head” in 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.
Both Elkin and Yadkin have recently upgraded their water rescue equipment caches with new inflatable rescue boats and jet-style motors to better serve the local communities. The training served to get members familiar with this new equipment. In addition to the two local squads, Watauga County Rescue was on hand along with members from the Elkin Fire Department.
“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.
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 squad and Yadkin as well, will only make the rescue operations more efficient.”
Watauga County Rescue Deputy Chief George Durfor said their department also benefited from the training.
“We have the lake calls and urban flooding issues but not a large amount of moving bodies of water. Being able to come train with these squads will only serve to improve skills that we don’t use on a regular basis,” Durfor said.
Hinshaw and Whitaker 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.”