Rock Island State Park is the perfect place to hone swiftwater rescue skills. Just ask the emergency personnel from Texas who visited last week.
“They visited us for their training event,” said Rock Island State Park manager Damon Graham. “I asked one of the guys if they have water like this in Texas and he told me they haven’t seen water like this in Texas in years and the only way to train for water-related disasters before they happen is to come here.”
Texas can be prone to flash-flood incidents, but quality training sites are limited there so fire and rescue professionals travel more than 15 hours and stay at the park all week to focus on improving their swiftwater safety skills. Along with state park rangers from Middle Tennessee, more than 45 instructors and students were in attendance.
Rock Island State Park provides a great training site and offers somewhat predictable large water flows which makes training safer. Training during the week focused on rescue power boat opera-tions, swimming victim recoveries, and nighttime operations.
“We have enjoyed hosting these professionals from Texas and have learned a great deal from how they approach water-related emergencies,” said Graham. “We plan to continue working with them in the future.”
With another swimming season fast approaching, state park officials and other emergency responders are gearing up for an increase in swimmers, boaters, kayakers, and water enthusiasts.
While Rock Island State Park provides the perfect training area for emergency personnel, it can be hazardous to individuals looking for water-related fun during the summer months. Graham says visitors to the park need to think safety first.
“At Rock Island, we cannot overstate the importance of wearing a life jacket when in or near the water, especially moving water,” he said. “We also encourage visitors to use common sense and take time to read warning signs. Areas below dams and near powerhouses require extra caution due to irregular and sometimes unexpected large water discharges. We also see a lot of serious injuries from jumping from rocks into the water. We discourage visitors from jumping from any bluffs or climb-ing any waterfalls.”
Some areas of the park are not appropriate for kayaking rookies.
“Kayaking has also become a very popular pastime, but we see many new to the sport that are unsure of what type of water they are entering,” said Graham. “Rock Island is not a place for begin-ners, unless you plan to float on the lake which is usually very calm.”
For more information about Rock Island State Park, visit its website, Facebook or call 686-2471.