Local Heroes First Responders to River Rescue!
When you live up in the mountains and have to travel on treacherous high-altitude passes and curvy roadways, often times, it’s fellow motorists and neighbors who are the “first responders” at the scene of an accident. That was the case last Friday in southern Lake County.A Leadville mother and daughter went off Hwy 24 into the Arkansas River Last Friday. Photo: Nathan Fisher
And if timing is everything, then timing was perfect last Friday, May 17 for a Leadville mother and her 9-year-old daughter when their SUV went off Highway 24 South between Granite and the Twin Lakes turnoff. While everyone came out ok (no serious injuries), there were a scary few minutes as the car careened down the embankment, landing – thankfully – wheel side down in the Arkansas River.
Leadville Today spoke to local Nathan Fisher, one of the first on the scene who stopped when he saw the flicker of a vehicle out of the corner of his eye, driving home to Leadville after a day’s work down south.
“The SUV had landed about four or five feet from the river bank and traveled about another ten feet down the river, but eventually stopped, after getting hung up on some rocks,” said Fisher. By the time Fisher and co- worker Bob Espinosa had pulled over, they saw that two kayakers (“Leadville guys” stated Fisher) had already suited up to begin wading into the frigid waters to help the victims inside the SUV.
Fisher immediately called 911 and then went to assist. By the time the girl was handed out of the car to Fisher, several other motorists had stopped and formed a human chain, hand to hand, to help Fisher carry the 9-year-old girl up the embankment to the highway. It seems the mother had a more challenging time due to an injury to her arm she had sustained in the accident. But the group’s efforts were successful and both mother and daughter were safe and wrapped in blankets as Lake County Emergency Responders arrived.
Now normally this would be a solid enough “good news” story, but for Nathan Fisher it wasn’t just any day. In fact, his assistance in this unique river rescue, might be called “good timing” by some, but others would probably call it fate. You see, May 17 was also the birthday of Nathan’s brother Matt who had passed away in a tragic accident a number of years ago.Nathan Fisher
Certainly his brother Matt was on his mind that day, but Fisher was also getting a premonition about rescuing someone, possibly having to perform CPR on someone that day. No doubt, those feelings led to Fisher’s quick response to jump into action, along with the other local rescuers.
“It definitely brought my spirits up that day. I was feeling pretty sad and then I saw a flash from the SUV out of the side of my eye and the adrenaline kicked in,” surmised Fisher.
Lake County Mock Emergency Scheduled for June 7
Wildland Fire Training Exercise for Emergency Responders
When you were growing up, they called them fire drills. In more recent times, they were referred to as mock emergencies. You’ve probably seen them featured on the evening news as exercises for emergency responders to train with “real” victims under “real” circumstances.Back in February 2012, LCOEM’s Mike McHargue met with the residents of Twin Lakes to review emergency preparedness procedures and concerns.
Two weeks from Friday, on June 7, starting at 10 a.m. the Leadville/Lake County emergency responders will be PRACTICING a full-scale wild land fire (exercise) near the Sugar Loafin’ Campground. This exercise will include evacuations from the neighboring homes, pet evacuation, set up & use of an evacuation center, communication processes and practice a variety of other situations that could arise in a real wildland fire.
It’s no surprise that wildfire is at the top of the risk list for Lake County. In fact, the scheduled training exercise is notably close to the anniversary of last year’s Treasure Fire on June 24.
Perhaps this anniversary will remind resident’s of the need to get that emergency evacuation kit together and have a plan in place.
Or if you’re interested in becoming more actively involved, the Lake County Office Emergency Management (LCOEM) is actively seeking volunteers to participate in the June 7 exercise. This is a great opportunity for your family to practice their emergency plan as well as familiarize themselves with evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency in Lake County.
If you would like to participate in this exercise as a volunteer, please contact LCOEM Manager Mike McHargue at LCEM@LakeCountyEM.org or Nicole with the Lake County’s Sheriff Office at firstname.lastname@example.org prior to Friday, May 24.
All volunteers assisting in this exercise must get a card from the Sheriff’s office and attend at least 1 training prior to this exercise. Evacuation volunteers going to the evacuation center do not need a card.
This exercise will help all responders to be better prepared in the event of a real wild land fire situation in the coming months. Remember, with the recent furloughs in the federal budget, funding of exercise like these will be drying up, so get involved and informed NOW!
If you cannot participate in the June 7 exercise, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are alerted in the case of an emergency in Lake County.
- Like the LCOEM Facebook Page
- Pick up a copy of the Lake County Community Preparedness Handbook, available at the Lake County Courthouse.
- Sign up for telephone notification alerts: LINK.