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Search & rescue groups respond to dozens of water-related calls

By Stephanie Hale-Lopez
Published On: Jul 07 2013 12:05:18 AM CDT

During an average summer, the team will do up to 50 water rescues. So far, they've done 7.

BONNEVILLE CO., -

Hot temperatures in the summer can be dangerous, but being out in the water poses even more of a threat.

Every year, search and rescue groups around Idaho respond to hundreds of water-related calls. 

The heat is making a return to Bonneville County and it's boosting attendance at rivers, lakes and reservoirs, where folks go to swim and enjoy the water.

During the summer months, the Bonneville County Search and Rescue team patrols the waters.

"We have 5 back country deputies that we specifically train to use these boats, and then we also have a rescue dive team," said Dep. Judd Aeschbacher with the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office.  

Most drownings happen in open water, often when swimmers overestimate their abilities, or underestimate the current. 

That's when the rescue team steps in. During an average summer, the team will do up to 50 water rescues. So far, they've done 7. 

"A rescue can be anywhere from somebody stuck on their boat, their battery is dead, to a boat capsizing," said Dep. Aeschbacher. "We've already had 4 different types of boats capsizing this year."

The rescue team says responding to a call can take up to half an hour, so wearing a life jacket increases your chances of survival. 

"If we find the body within the first hour, they've had proven success of reviving them and bringing them back," said Dep. Mike Vasquez, with the Bonneville County Sheriff's Office. "That first hour is important but by the time everything happens, we're behind the ball all the time. It's tough, but we're trying."

And with many spots to choose from to go for a swim, the team says the Snake River is by far the deadliest. 

"We have so many currents and different obstacles in the river," said Dep. Vasquez. "Just there by John's Hole Bridge we have lava rock, boat anchors, rebar and construction debris."

In Idaho, everyone on a boat under the age of 14 must wear a life jacket or face a $99 fine.

The rescue team says even on hot days, water can remain very cold in the summer. The temperature can immobilize even the strongest swimmers in minutes.

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