Water rescues on Hagg Lake are a part of rural fire district's regular service

Gaston Rural Fire District's new rescue boat went into service with a bang on Memorial Day weekend, aiding volunteer firefighters in rescuing a swimmer in distress Monday.

The boat crew, consisting of two Gaston volunteers and one Yamhill County volunteer noticed a swimmer about halfway across the lake at 3:45 p.m.

When the crew first approached the swimmer, he said he was OK, but the boat stayed near the swimmer and soon it was evident that he was in distress.

The crew pulled the swimmer from the water and covered him with blankets until an ambulance could arrive on scene and transport him to a nearby hospital.

The boat, which the district purchased this winter with a $45,000 grant from the Dal Baker Trust.

And though it wasn't officially dedicated to service until May 5, already it's been involved in a number of rescues.

On Saturday, April 21, six Gaston emergency medical technicians, joined by two others from Cornelius and Newberg, were just offshore in the boat when a call came in from Boat Ramp C.

On shore, the EMTs found John Ollis, a visitor to the park in full cardiac arrest. Using a defibrillator, the EMTs were able to restart his heart and he was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to a local hospital. His appearance at the dedication ceremony brought tears to the eyes of several of the EMTs who were at the call.

The next day, a sunny Sunday, crews were back at the lake for drills when three more calls came in for injured park visitors.

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