First responders bracing for busy summer boating and swimming season

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO (KTVI) - Area first responders are bracing for what could be a busy weekend.  They hope boaters and swimmers heed warnings sometimes ignored.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is underestimating the power of a current, according to High Ridge Fire Protection Chief Michael Arnhart.  He says one downpour can change currents drastically.  His department has already been called for water rescues this year.

“You can have slippery conditions dealing with moss buildup.  You can have a current that will typically go from minimal to strong, and then the other thing is not knowing how the topography is laid out,” said Arnhart.  “You might be walking along and it seems like a level ground and all of a sudden you hit a hole and then go under.”

Arnahrt is also asking people to be prepared.  Flotation devices are always a good idea.  If someone does go under water be prepared to tell first responders exactly where it happened.

“Typically their body is going to stay right in that general area so when the fire department arrives on the scene it’s extremely important that we have some type of landmark,” said Arnhart.

He also has a warning for anyone trying to make a rescue.  Arnhart says never approach a panicked swimmer head on.  They could also pull their rescuer underwater.

“Our teams are trained to approach from behind and secure the individual that way, and bring them back to safety.” ​