HARTFORD COURANT: Canton Fire, EMS Department Develops River Response Team

By | January 3, 2019


DEC 28, 2018 |1:37 PM

A donation from Collinsville Canoe and Kayak has bolstered the Town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department’s new rapid river response team.

Bruce Lockwood, the department’s new chief as of Jan. 1, said the donation of two kayaks, two aluminum paddles, and two personal flotation devices has given the department another way to keep those enjoying the Connecticut River safe.

The donation is valued at more than $2,500.

“We do multiple responses throughout the year to the river,” Lockwood said. “It added another tool in our toolbox. Depending on the incident and what’s going on, we have another tool that’s capable of moving in to help.”

Part of the initiative includes new signage along the river, allowing those calling in an emergency to better direct responders to where the incident is occurring.

“That gives us a geographic orientation for where they are on the river,” Lockwood said. “If they are hurt or injured, we can get a better idea of where they are at.”

Prior to adding the kayaks, the department would respond to emergencies on the river with an inflatable boat. But that boat, Lockwood said, isn’t always the best option depending on where on the river they need to be.

They now have four kayaks to respond with, which Lockwood said was essential.

“We don’t want someone to go down the river as a single individual,” Lockwood said. “It will always be a pair. If we have a kayak that’s damaged, we don’t have a kayak at all, because they won’t be sent down by themselves.”

Lockwood said that come this summer, when the waters are busy with those celebrating the Fourth of July or summer in general, people can expect a much more active presence of emergency responders – who may on some days actually choose to spend their day on the river.

“What we’re hopeful of is that we’ll get more visibility on the river, since the kayaks will be marked up,” Lockwood said. “Especially in an area where there’s a lot of recreation we’ll have some visibility.”

Training will be started soon, Lockwood said, with those members of the department that are interested in being part of the new river response team. He said this opens up the department to people with new kinds of skills.

“This kayak area is where you don’t need to be a traditional firefighter,” Lockwood said. “If you take EMS courses… if you’re into kayaking, we can use the skill set you already have and enhance them.”