River users asked to help reduce false alarms on the Roaring Fork | AspenTimes.com

River users asked to help reduce false alarms on the Roaring Fork

Aspen Times Staff Report

Local swift-water rescue teams hope to save a lot of time and energy this rafting season by reducing the number of false alarms reported by boaters.

Last week, members of the Basalt fire department’s swift-water rescue team were dispatched to the Roaring Fork River near the Wingo Junction bridge due to reports of a capsized kayak. The team found the kayak, upside down and lodged under a log. But after searching the area, they didn’t find evidence of a river rat in need of rescue.

Ellen Anderson, Pitkin County’s emergency management coordinator, issued a press release over the weekend to warn local boaters. If they are able to self-rescue after capsizing a kayak or raft but must leave the craft in the river, boaters should notify local law enforcement to avoid unnecessary and dangerous rescue efforts.

“The sight of an overturned boat in the water is alarming,” the press release states. “If we cannot determine if someone is still in the boat because it is upside down or trapped, a swift-water rescue will be initiated.”

Rafters and kayakers are encouraged to notify the Aspen/Pitkin County dispatch center at 920-5300 to let potential rescuers know there isn’t an emergency. They should also provide the location and color of their boat, in case a rescue has already been initiated.

“We want to reduce false alarms to the generous firefighters and others who volunteer their time to conduct rescues on our rivers,” the release states. “Although they are highly trained, there is always some risk involved.”

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