Clackamas firefighters train with night-vision tools
Rising temperatures spell busier times for Clackamas Fire, according to firefighter Dustin Mauck. The fire district performs an average of 70 water rescues per year, half of which happen when the sun goes down.
That's why, in preparation for the summer, firefighters are training to use night-vision tools and other means necessary during a water rescue at any time.
"Visibility is a big thing," Mauck said. "Anytime you're in the water it sounds a lot worse than it is, but you can't see, you don't really know where you are, it's hard to tell if you can hike out or not."
The water, while inviting, can be dangerous, Mauck said.
"As soon as you jump in, you only have a couple minutes of real purposeful movement until you can get to the shore," Mauck advised. "So wear a life jacket before you go swimming."
That's not all they're advising. Even though temperatures are warming up, the rivers in Clackamas County are still a huge safety risk with fast currents and cold temperatures.
"If you have a life jacket on, your head is going to stay above water, and even if it is cold water, you could be in the water for a half-hour to 45 minutes and still be fine," Mauck said. "If you don't have a life jacket on, as soon as you hit the cold water it will be a shock — you take a big gulp, you take in some water and you go straight down."
Every minute counts, Mauck said.
"After 30 minutes, we switch from a rescue to a recover mode," Mauck said, "so we are trying to get there within the first five to 10 minutes to really make a difference."