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Dramatic river rescue a reminder to stay safe

By Bo Koltnow, Reporter, BKoltnow@wfmz.com
Published On: May 19 2014 05:04:39 PM CDT
Updated On: May 19 2014 06:16:55 PM CDT

What can start as fun filled river adventure can also quickly turn to chaos on the water, as was evident Saturday, when a woman had to be rescued while rafting the Lehigh River in Carbon County.

What can start as fun filled river adventure can also quickly turn to chaos on the water, as was evident Saturday, when a woman had to be rescued while rafting the Lehigh River in Carbon County.

"Any water moving quickly is considered dangerous," Lehigh Gorge State Park assistant manager Tarah Brugger said.

Brugger also said the recent rains have made rivers run faster than normal.

No matter your ride on the river, water rescues can and do happen all the time.

"Number one safety rule on the river is wearing your life jacket at all times," she said.

Within the gorge only white water approved non-motor crafts are allowed.

If you are knocked off, Brugger says fight the urge to grab for your craft, especially in white water.

"Put your feet up and face down stream. Get your toes out of the water so you don't get any foot entrapments and just float until you get to a nice calm area," Brugger said.

"Typically we're involved in rescues where water is running anywhere from four to eight knots, which is quite fast," Jim Seargent of Pennsylvania Water Rescue said.

His group travels as far Lebanon County for rescues and performs upwards of 20 rescues per year.

"If the conditions on the river are conditions you're not used to. Or any member of your part afraid then of course, to air on the side of safety is never a bad decision," Seargent said.

Whitewater rafting companies are required to have guides trained in first aid, CPR and river rescues.