Man swept away by Red River clings to log until rescuers pull him to safety

A man clinging to a log was pulled from the Red River by Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service crews early Monday morning.

Tell children to stay away from waterways, parents, teachers urged

A Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service water rescue crew, shown bringing a cat off the Assiniboine River last year, saved a person from the Red River on Monday morning. (Submitted/@UFFW on Twitter)

A man clinging to a log was pulled from the Red River by Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service crews early Monday morning.

Emergency crews responded to a report just after 6:30 a.m. about a person being swept away by the quickly flowing river, which is expected to reach its peak spring flood level Monday or Tuesday.

The 911 caller could see the person in the river, staying afloat by holding onto a log, and directed the fire rescue crew to his location near Waterfront Drive and McDermott Avenue just north of The Forks, said Ihor Holowczynsky, assistant chief of fire rescue operations for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

The man was brought to safety shortly after 6:45 a.m. and was taken to hospital in stable condition.

The rescue was done without using a watercraft, Holowczynsky said.

"The members are dressed in drysuits and would use the required protection — it may be a rope system to tie them in to the bank — and they could swim out or float out and secure the individual and bring them in," he said.

It's not known how long the man was in the water or how he ended up in the water.

The river is near its peak spring flow and carrying a lot of debris, such as the log the man was holding onto, Holowczynsky said.

'Particularly dangerous'

"At this time of year the water is, of course, particularly dangerous," he said.

"The water's high, it's moving fast, it's cold so hypothermia's an issue."

Holowczynsky said they frequently get calls about people in the river.

"There's always a lot of danger but we try and mitigate the risks," he said.

"If [the water rescue crew members] deem it's too dangerous for them to enter, then they may decide not to, so it's always their call at the scene about if it's tenable or not."

He urged parents and teachers to remind children to stay away from the riverbanks.

"The potential for injury or drowning in the river is there year-round," he said.

"Up until, you know, late summer, it still could be considered swift water. … There's unpredictable currents and eddies, so … it's still a dangerous bit of water."

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson


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