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'Not typical, but not surprising' says deputy fire chief after back-to-back water rescues

Centre Wellington Fire had a Sunday busier than usual
(Photo: Katie Hartai)

It wasn't a typical Sunday for Centre Wellington Fire crews. 

The first call for Centre Wellington Fire to respond to distress came from two tubers in the Elora Gorge on Sunday.

"They were actually uninjured, I believe it was just inexperience in the river, they felt like they were possibly in danger," said Deputy Fire Chief Jonathan Karn. Crews entered the water using an inflatable boat where the tubers would typically start, and navigated to the two in distress.

Crews may as well have kept their water rescue gear on, as a call came in soon afterwards for a call from Belwood Lake.

A motorized Zodiac was deployed to help the uninjured victim, who was found with a sinking jet ski in the lake. He was able to call 911 using his cellphone.

Being able to tell rescuers his location was key, according to Karn.

"It is a large enough lake that it would take us a good period of time to search that entire lake with our boats, so knowing the area that you're in, being able to call 911, and yesterday he was able to do that. He was able to call 911 from his cell phone right from the SeaDoo, so being able to give good location to dispatch if you do have to call 911 really helps us find somebody a lot quicker."

Karn also emphasized that the boater was wearing a life jacket, and doing all the things he needed to to be safe. 

In the case of the Elora Gorge, Karn recommends going through the Grand River Conservation Authority. They'll be able to provide the necessary safety equipment, and know the conditions of the river on any given day. 

"Know your own limits," he added. "We do see people participating in things like tubing, but they can't swim. You have to understand, this is still water. It can be fast moving, and there are areas that are fairly deep."

Normally, a number of calls do come in throughout the year, but two in one day is not typical by any means. Karn said as COVID restrictions relax, tourists and locals are flocking to the gorge and the lake for leisure.

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