Early run-off leads rivers to swell, swift water rescue teams prepare

Posted at 6:44 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 20:44:45-05

Salt Lake - As the snowmelt flows down the mountains, Utah’s waterways are starting to rise.

Salt Lake City Fire Department’s Swift Water Rescue team is aware and prepared for the early run-off.

"With the warmer weather, people start to think maybe it's a little closer to summer so they go out to go do fishing or some recreational fun and they realize how cold the water is and how swift it is as well and end up getting themselves in trouble," said Justus Seeley, a firefighter, paramedic, and swift water rescue member.

Seeley said Jordan River is a common spot for their training, along with Unified’s swift water rescue team.

The biggest shock for team members training each year is the water’s temperature, according to Seeley.

"With it right now just being frozen, melted, ice water it's very cold and it will take effect super-duper fast," said Seeley. "That cold does set in, makes your limbs numb, makes your thinking go different directions."

Seeley said the hardest part about a rescue isn't the cold, it’s getting the person who is being saved to cooperate.

“They may be not in the same mind set as they would be if they were on land so maybe they are excited to get out so anything they can grab ahold of, they'll grab ahold of,” Seeley said.

If you are headed to moving waterways, never go alone, and bring protective gear, a helmet, a flotation device, and always wear a life-jacket.