Cedar Hill Fire Protection District Chief Mick Fischer used an abandoned kayak on Saturday (Aug. 10) to reach a woman who needed medical assistance on a remote part of the Big River north of Hillsboro.
“It was a little out of the ordinary,” Fischer said.
He said the woman was experiencing a moderate medical issue on the water while floating with friends.
Fischer said the call came in at 3:11 p.m. and Jefferson County 911 Dispatch was able to use GPS to locate the cell phone near Beverly Court.
He said emergency responders arrived at the river by 3:21 p.m. and were able to make contact with the patient at 3:48 p.m.
“It was probably about a mile hike just to get down to the river,” Fischer said. “They were on the opposite side of the river from us.”
Fischer said the district worked to get units on the other side of the river, but there was no way.
He said crews thought about using a helicopter, but there was no place for it to land. Putting the district’s boat in the water was discussed, but would have taken too long.
“Our goal was to get her out of there in the shortest time possible,” he said.
Fischer said he spotted a kayak with a paddle lying in the woods and put it in the water.
“I could tell this kayak hadn’t been used in a while,” he said.
He said the kayak was uncomfortable to ride and was covered with spiders, but he got to the other side of the river.
Once there, he used the group’s canoe to get the woman to the other side. He said he used the kayak to tow the canoe and the woman’s friends swam alongside the canoe helping.
Fischer said the woman made it to the other side by 4:11 p.m.
“Her friends were a big help,” he said.
Big River Ambulance was able to use its Utility Task Vehicle to get the woman through the woods and on her way to the hospital by 4:50 p.m., Fischer said.
He said the call was physically draining.