Community Stories

Red Deer River Rescue

August 09, 2019

Long weekends are always eventful for Emergency Services, and this past August long weekend was no exception.

At roughly 2 a.m. on August 5, Red Deer Emergency Services medics responded to a call to assist the Blackfalds Fire Department with a water rescue.

The Blackfalds responders discovered two kayakers stranded on an island in the Red Deer River. The Blackfalds Fire Department does not have the capabilities to conduct this type of rescue, so they initiated communications with the kayakers and kept everyone calm while Red Deer Emergency Services was contacted to provide aid in undertaking the water rescue.

While the river was assessed to only be flowing at 50 cubic meters per second, which is generally not considered to be a fast flow, water rescues involve a high degree of risk in any conditions, specifically when the rescue takes place at night. A lack of visibility, unpredictable water depths, sunken debris and sharp turns in the river make using motorized boats dangerous in these conditions. As such, the Red Deer Emergency Services jet boat and zodiac were not able to be used in this rescue. After assessing the river conditions and establishing a feasible access point for the crews, officers determined that the rescue could be attempted by using an inflatable rescue craft. The rescuers swam over to the island, helped the stranded kayakers onto the craft, and returned across the river without incident.

The kayakers were found with no medical issues other than environmental exposure. Upon safe return across the river, the officers discovered that the kayakers are from Red Deer, Both kayakers were grateful for the assistance provided by responders from both Blackfalds and Red Deer.

It is important to remember that even though a quick trip down the river can be refreshing and a great way to spend a hot afternoon, there are a number of dangers that can turn your short trip into a dangerous situation. Make sure to follow the following safety tips.

  • Always let a loved one know where you are going – including your launch point, finishing area, and expected time you will be home.
  • Be aware of river conditions and flow rates.
  • Always wear a life jacket
  • Bring the right supplies, including hats, water, sunscreen, insect repellent, a cell phone in a water proof container, and a water safety kit that includes a bailing device, a paddle or oar, a sound signaling device, such as a whistle, a towing line, and navigation or safety lights for use in low light conditions.