A Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue swift water training exercise left a firefighter with a broken leg on Wednesday.
Fire Chief Howard Exner said the incident serves as a warning of how dangerous rivers can be, particularly during the freshet season, which is beginning.
Exner said his crews were training in Golden Ears Provincial Park, in the Lower Falls area of Gold Creek. It is an area from which emergency responders get numerous calls each year for swift water rescues. The firefighter, a veteran member, got his foot wedged between two boulders under water, and his leg was broken by the current.
“The energy of the river pushed him in the wrong direction, and broke his leg,” said Exner.
His co-workers were able to help the injured man to shore, and he was transported to a parking lot on a Polaris Ranger UTV equipped for litter carries. He was then taken to hospital by ambulance. The accident happened at about 11 a.m.
Exner said freshet, the annual spring melt, raises water levels and makes rivers more dangerous.
“This isn’t the time to be playing in the river,” he said. “If you don’t have a PFD (personal flotation device) you shouldn’t be within 10 feet of the river. And nor should your pet.”
His teams have rescued dogs stuck in local rivers in the past.
Exner said injuries in firefighter training are not unheard of.
“As with a lot of the calls first responders go to, there is an inherent risk.”
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