The continuous need for marine rescues on the Penticton Channel is preventable, says the Penticton Fire Department following yet another rescue today.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. the Penticton Fire Department was called out to rescue a group of individuals whose tubes had become wrapped around the abutment of a bridge.
Crews rushed to the scene and prepared to get in the water. The two tubes that were tied together had two people on one, and one person on the other. One of the individuals could not swim and did not have a life jacket.
While the other two individuals swam away, the individual who didn’t know how to swim held on to the tube, was in a panicked state and had to be rescued.
“When you get to an abutment, it’s very easy for one (tube) to go on one side, and one on the other, and so that’s the situation that occurred here,” said Penticton Fire Department deputy chief, Chris Forster.
In the meantime, while rescue crews were getting into the water, another group of floaters were approaching the area, also with their tubes tied together. This group abandoned their tubes, which also became tangled around the abutment.
“It all worked out real well, but once again we can’t emphasize enough that, even as a strong swimmer you should have a life jacket, but at a minimum if you can’t swim, you should have a life jacket on.
“That is just absolutely a necessity.”
Forester said even if you’re with someone who knows how to swim, you shouldn’t rely on this and should wear a flotation device.
“These waters are flowing fast and it’s very difficult for people to get to you… it only takes seconds. We just can’t stress that enough,” said Forster.
“Accidents are preventable. This channel is fun, it is great fun for everybody and families, but it’s all preventable. We don’t need to tie the tubes, and we need to wear our life jackets.”
This, Forster said, is a very basic concept.
“Yes, it’s nice to lay in the sun, but realistically your safety is more important than anything,” he said.