Kootenai Co. Sheriff's Office divers prepare for river rescues




Posted on April 17, 2014 at 7:31 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 18 at 8:20 AM

POST FALLS, Idaho.--The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office said April was the perfect time for their divers to get in some training.

Authorities said someone seems to fall victim to drowning in Kootenai County each year. That is why they chose a gloomy day in April when river conditions were at its worst to prepare for the worst.

The water was 42 degrees on Thursday. The Kootenai County divers had on wetsuits, life jackets and a supporting cast to help them out immediately if they found themselves in trouble.

Authorities said residents should not try it on their own without the proper gear and skills.

“Survivability is very slim. A lot of folks … this time the year with water this high… take canoes, kayaks, and they'll really want to play in the river, and unfortunately if you don't know what you are doing, it's a recipe for disaster,” said Lieutenant Stuart Miller with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office had several new divers on their team. Thursday was their first lesson in navigating the high and fast river conditions. Veterans were also mixed in with the group. The divers do monthly training to keep their skills sharp.

“It looks pretty calm, but with all the rocks and debris and stuff, people just don't understand the hazards and the dangers, the swift moving water and how cold it is and stuff,” said Lt. Miller.

Lieutenant Stu Miller said it is very easy to drown. The divers were learning to recognize various river hazards and how to save themselves if they fall in.

Miller said it seemed like at least one person drowns every year around the Corbin Park area.

“The top of the river looks pretty flat, but there are rollers in there and it pulls people down quick,” said Lt. Miller.