Firefighters Hold River Rescue Course

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GOLD HILL, Ore. – Personnel from police and fire agencies across the Rogue Valley are learning how to tame the Rogue River. It’s part of a voluntary weekend-long training course.

Officials say river rescues are an unavoidable part of Summer.

“A lot of people come down through the nice flat water and then they end up looking down into this class four technical rapid,” said Clayton Mattson, firefighter with Fire District 3.

Today is the grand finale of the course. After learning about rope systems, rescue carries, extractions, and more, the 12-member class is mounting a simulated rescue.

And the victims are doing everything they can to keep things interesting.

“Probably pushing around, maybe untying some knots. Just yelling in their face,” said victim Patrick Bailey.

Bailey was assigned to play a belligerent, drunk victim. The other victim, Dalton, mimicked having an injured leg. But the class has to find that out on their own.

“When you’re the healthcare provider or the rescuer you don’t always get to see what your victim or your patient is going through,” said Bailey.

Bailey says in a real life rescue situation, you have to be mindful of much more than just the rapids.

“Every little mistake that the rescuer makes, or every little rock you hit — every little bump — if they’re hurt, it’s huge,” said Bailey.

Officials say if a call comes in, they can be there within 10 minutes. But it’s best to prepare in advance. Know the river, wear a life jacket, and know who to call.

“Make sure you can get the appropriate resources — agencies like ourselves, the sheriff’s office, and other rescue agencies coming that are equipped and trained so you don’t put yourself into more danger,” said Mattson.