FLORIDA MAN RESCUED AFTER KAYAK FLIPS

by Christian Mower on May 28, 2013

RESCUERS SAY A FLORIDA MAN WHO WAS KAYAKING ALONE ON THE SACO RIVER FRIDAY NIGHT WAS SUFFERING FROM HYPOTHERMIA AFTER HE WAS RESCUED.

CENTER CONWAY FIRE CHIEF RAY LEAVITT SAYS CENTER CONWAY RESCUE WAS CALLED SHORTLY BEFORE 8 P.M. AFTER SOMEONE REPORTED SEEING A KAYAK FLOATING UPSIDE DOWN IN THE SACO RIVER ON THE FRYEBURG SIDE OF THE EASTMAN RD. ROUTE 302 BRIDGE.

LEAVITT QUICKLY CALLED FOR THE CONWAY FIRE SWIFTWATER FLOOD RESCUE TEAM AFTER SEEING A PERSON UPSTREAM OF THE BRIDGE ON A ROCK IN THE CENTER OF THE RIVER SURROUNDED BY HIGH RAPIDS.

CHIEF STEVE SOLOMON SAYS HIS TEAM RESPONDED AND THREE SPECIALLY TRAINED RESCUE SWIMMERS SWAM TO THE VICTIM. SUPPORTED BY A TEAM OF ABOUT A DOZEN FIREFIGHTERS ON THE SHORE, THE SWIMMERS MANAGED TO GET THE MAN TO THE SHORE, WHERE HE WAS GIVEN INITIAL TREATMENT AND THEN TAKEN TO MEMORIAL HOSPITAL IN NORTH CONWAY.

SOLOMON SAYS THE RIVER WAS RUNNING ABOUT TWICE ITS NORMAL SUMMER HEIGHT AND FLOWING ABOUT TWICE AS FAST. THE VICTIM WAS WEARING A LIFE JACKET OVER SHORTS AND A T-SHIRT, BUT NO HELMET.

LEAVITT SAYS THE RIVER WATER TEMPERATURE WAS AROUND 50 DEGREES AND THE VICTIM WAS NOT WEARING A WET SUIT, WAS OUT TOO LATE IN THE EVENING ON THE RIVER – AND HADN’T LET ANYONE KNOW WHERE HE WAS. HE SAYS THE MAN SAID IT WASN’T THE SMARTEST THING HE HAD EVER DONE.

NEARLY TWO DOZEN CONWAY FIREFIGHTERS – THE MAJORITY OF THE DEPARTMENT – AND SEVERAL CENTER CONWAY FIREFIGHTERS – ARE ETHER TRAINED OR UNDERGOING TRAINING AS SWIFTWATER FLOOD RESCUE TECHNICIANS, AFTER A MAJOR TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVE STARTED AFTER TROPICAL STORM IRENE HIT CONWAY IN 2011.

CHIEF SOLOMON HAS USED GRANT MONEY TO BUY SPECIALIZED RESCUE EQUIPMENT AND HE SERVES ON TWO COMMITTEES THAT ADVISE THE STATE ON RIVER RESCUE PROCEDURES.

HE ANTICIPATES HIS TEAM WILL BE OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED BY THE SUMMER OF 2013 BY THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY AS A RESCUE TEAM THAT WILL BE CAPABLE OF RESPONDING TO EMERGENCIES OUTSIDE THE VALLEY, IF REQUIRED.