Limestone Firefighters Pull Two Canoers From Stone Canyon Lake

Friday, March 25th 2011, 2:46 pm
By: News On 6

Emily Baucum, News On 6

LIMESTONE, Oklahoma -- Firefighters from the Limestone Fire Protection District are being called heroes after saving two lives earlier this week. The real hero, they say, is a rookie member of the crew: a rescue boat.

"It was bought for swift water rescues, ice rescues," Greg Long said.

The boat is fifteen feet long and inflates in less than one minute. When seconds count, firefighters need the lightweight boat to perform a heavyweight job.

Assistant Chief Greg Long says the district bought the $4,000 boat a year ago. It had never been used outside of training.

That equipment got put to the test earlier this week when two canoers out on Stone Canyon Lake near Owasso in Rogers County overturned their boat and fell into the 50 degree water.

"We got the boat inflated, put the other two swimmers in that boat, made their way out and pulled them back to the shore with them," Long said.

The two men were not wearing lifejackets and were already suffering from mild hypothermia as crews pulled them from the cold water. Their canoe might have capsized, but the yellow rescue boat will not.

"It's an open-valve boat. It's designed to come right over the rescue swimmers," Trent Morris said. "We can pull it in and as we pull them, it will get the water in but it will just rush down here and no water will stay in the boat."

It's a scary situation that could have been prevented.

"Thirty mile an hour winds, it's not a good idea to get out there," Long said.

But quick thinking and fast technology helped rescue crews on the move save lives.  The boat also handles well in ice, in case of water rescues during the winter.

Most rural districts have metal boats that are difficult to haul to emergencies.  Without the new rescue boat, the two canoers would have had to hang on until Tulsa crews arrived and that might have been too late.