News 10 jumps in the water to learn Search & Rescue river safety tactics

(KTVL/ Kimberly Kolliner)

From Multnomah, to Clackamas, Coos Jackson and Josephine Counties, more than 40 students and instructors from law enforcement agencies gathered in White City for the Oregon State Marine Board Drift Boat Operations Course.

Instructors like Sergeant Will Coleman from the Coos County Sheriff’s Office say one of the best ways to stay safe if caught in a current is to ride the river as close to the surface as possible.

"Key is to get flat. Get your butt up to the air, get your hips towards the surface as close as you can. If it's sitting down too hard and you hit something, it's going to hurt pretty bad,” said Sgt. Coleman.

Once, you’re in good positioning, Search and rescue crews say the best way to conserve energy is to swim defensively.

"The more you're swimming out there the more you wear yourself out. If you're at a forty-five [degree angle] the current is going to push you over to the side," said Deputy Kevin McAfee, from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.

Defensive swimming allows a swimmer to use the current to their advantage by being guided by the river to an advantageous enough position to begin aggressively swimming towards safety. USING

Search and Rescue crews say distance, length of time and more importantly the gear you have on the river has everything with how well you stay afloat.

A lifejacket helps keep your head above water and a dry suit helps your body temperature up.

"A lot of snow melt and things like that so the water is extremely cold. We have quite a bit of water out there right now. so just taking those safety precautions ahead of time and making sure that you have those things in your boat and just go out there and be safe. Enjoy yourself but be safe," said Sergeant Ernie Fields, from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.

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