At 3 p.m. today, emergency responders were dispatched to a call involving a female kayaker who was trapped in a fish ladder on the Tualatin River, just south of Interstate 205. Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue’s water rescue team deployed from West Linn Fire Station 59, along with responders from Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, Lake Oswego Fire Department and American Medical Response.
Upon arrival, crews found a distressed female in the water, who was unable to make it to the shoreline on her own. Firefighters made their way down steep terrain and over to the fish ladder, quickly pulling her to safety. The female kayaker was evaluated by medics on scene but declined transport to a hospital. Firefighters also made sure the rest of her group safely made it to shore.
Our water rescue team has already responded to two drownings this year. Thankfully, the female kayaker in this incident was wearing a life jacket, which likely saved her life, especially in the frigid cold water.
TVF&R wants to remind people who partake in water activities on rivers and lakes to always wear a life jacket. According to the Oregon State Marine Board - 90% of fatalities in Oregon occur because the victim wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Ensure they are properly fitted (not so large that they come off in the water); and they’re rated for the type for activity (rough versus calm water).
In addition to keeping your head above water, a life jacket will also allow you to conserve body heat by floating rather than swimming. Oregon law mandates that all boats must carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for every person aboard. Persons under 12 must be wearing the life jacket.
About TVF&R’s Water Rescue Team
TVF&R’s Water Rescue Team is comprised of firefighters cross-trained in swift-water rescue, rope rescue techniques and boat operations. The team trains once a week to ensure response readiness and hone specialized skills. On any given day, five to six water rescue technicians are on duty ready to respond around the clock. The team is strategically positioned at Station 59 in West Linn and Station 20 in Newberg near the Willamette River. In 2019, the team responded to 55 water rescue incidents. TVF&R’s team is a member of the Clackamas County Interagency Water Consortium. The consortium works to improve safety and performance in the water environment. This group trains together for water rescue incidents three days per month and responds to anywhere from 50 to 80 incidents per year. Other members of the consortium include Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Dive/Rescue Team, Clackamas County Fire District 1, Lake Oswego Fire Department, Gladstone Fire Department, Estacada Rural Fire District 69, Canby Fire District 62, Sandy Fire District 72, C-COM and American Medical Response.