Featured Stories

Rescue workers prepare for wet, wild summer

by: submitted photo Firefighters and rescue workers from Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue gather Tuesday for the 15th Annual Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego. With warmer weather ahead, Capt. John Voeller said his staff is preparing for increased emergency calls.

When water accidents happen this summer, Station 59 in West Linn will be ready.

Firefighters and rescue workers from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue joined eight other fire, rescue and law enforcement agencies on Tuesday for the 15th Annual Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium at Foothills Park in Lake Oswego.

The event is always a boon to water safety in this area.

'By working together in a consortium we can strengthen our level of service,' said Capt. John Voeller at the West Linn station for TVF and R. 'It's hard for individual departments to fund a full water rescue team. By preparing this way we save the taxpayers money.'

With each fire department having a water rescue specialty, they can respond to any emergency. It also helps that firefighters get to know each other before the calls for help start coming in.

'It's always good to work with people before an emergency happens,' Voeller said. 'Things go smoother.'

From now through the beginning of fall, Voeller said there will be 50 to 70 water emergency calls in this region.

'There is so much water around here,' said event organizer Scott Carlson of the Lake Oswego Fire Department, who is co-chairman of the consortium. 'We've got to keep the message about water safety going.'

As the weather and water get warmer, there will be more boats and swimmers in Oswego Lake and the Clackamas, Molalla and Willamette rivers. With boaters, danger comes from the rise in drinking. With swimmers, it comes from misjudging the water temperature, which can be very cold.

The biggest worry for rescue workers, though, are the high rocky area of the Clackamas River, where many drownings have occurred through the years.

The consortium helps rescue workers get ready for any eventualities, from simple to life-threatening.

'They've been a great help,' Voeller said. 'Each year we get a little stronger. The consortium has had a steady impact on our rescue operations.'

'It's made a huge difference,' Carlson said. 'It's helped not only with our efficiency but with our safety.'

While the water rescue consortium is the big kickoff event, the nine departments will continue to train together and meet during the summer.