Dan Ell is a senior EMS Educator for Sanford Health. He has been conducting water rescues for 29 years.
Ell says you need to prepare to respond to a water emergency until help arrives, which first starts by dialing 9-1-1 and then finding something that helps keep the victim afloat.
“The best thing to do is to throw something to that person that is going to float, a life jacket, of some sort,” Ell said. “Empty coolers that have ropes attached to them are a good thing, even a beach ball.”
It takes just minutes before a disaster can take place in water, but emergency response times can vary greatly depending on location.
“Most of the rescue folks are centered in the city. You get up to Lake Sakakawea, depending on where the incident is could take 30 to 45 minutes for people to get there,” Ell said.
With the possibility of long response times, Ell says knowing how to administer CPR is a must.
“We would do airway management, warm them up; especially if they’re unresponsive, pulseless, we would do CPR,” Ell said.
The dangers increase on larger bodies of water when a person decides to leave their boat or go out on small watercraft such as a kayak.
“The current in the rivers is a big thing, the undertow in the river; especially in The Missouri River. There is a really big undertow,” Ell said.
Ell said, bottom line, don’t go out on the water unless you are educated and prepared to deploy these safeguards at a moment’s notice.