Two Oak Ridge Fire Department swimmers rescued a man who had fallen out of a canoe near Clark Center Park in south Oak Ridge on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The man, who was not identified, cannot swim, but he was wearing a life jacket, the City of Oak Ridge said in a press release Friday. He was hanging onto a fence post in the water after falling out of his canoe, but he was cold and could not get himself back into the overturned canoe or to the shore, the press release said.
The Oak Ridge 911 dispatch center had received a call that a canoe had overturned in the cove at the entrance to Clark Center Park at about 3:35 p.m. Thursday.
Oak Ridge Fire Department Captain Jason Benjamin has been training a crew of firefighters to become rescue swimmers during the past 24 months, and their training was put to the test on Thursday, the press release said.
The ORFD did not have a place to launch its rescue boat in the area of the rescue, so the battalion chief placed rescue swimmers Logan Latham and Skyler West into the water to help the man and bring him to shore, the press release said.
“They entered the 57-degree water at 3:46 p.m. and swam approximately 40 yards out to the stranded man,” the release said. “By 3:50 p.m., Latham, West, and the man were all out of the water and safe. The swimmers were also able to retrieve the man’s canoe and most of his belongings.”
Anderson County EMS responded to the scene to evaluate the patient, but he refused all treatment and transport, the press release said. He reported no serious injuries.
The City of Oak Ridge is surrounded on three sides by water. There are many areas where canoes and kayaks can navigate, but rescue boats are unable to launch, the press release said.
“Rescue swimmers are often the only means of quickly reaching individuals who are in distress and bringing them to safety,” the release said.
City officials emphasized that the man was wearing a life jacket.
“This is an important lesson and message for all boaters: The weather may be warming up, but the water is still frigid and in less than four minutes, many individuals will begin to lose the ability to move effectively in the cold water,” the press release said. “The Oak Ridge Fire Department encourages all boaters to wear personal flotation devices, especially when in a canoe, kayak, or other small non-motorized water craft.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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