A training session turned into a real-life rescue for some Johns Creek firefighters on Friday.
When a kayak carrying a father and son flipped on the Chattahoochee River, firefighters learning swift water rescue were able to pull the two to safety.
"The next drills we were going to do were contact drills," firefighter Greg Rock told the AJC Friday night. "They did exactly what we had been training them to do."
Rock, an instructor for a group of 12 students, said the kayakers were wearing lifepreservers when the boat flipped.
"It hit a wave the wrong way," Rock said.
As the father and son tumbled into the cold waters in Forsyth County, Rock and two other firefighters followed, pulling both to safety. Along with Rock, Bret Langston and Geoff Garcia made sure the father and son were safe and also managed to retrieve the kayak and a paddle, Rock said.
"The thing that really gets people is that it's faster than it looks," Rock said of the river waters.
The father and the boy, who looked about 10 years old, decided to continue down the river before the rescuers got their names, Rock said.
“The little boy didn’t look real crazy about getting back into the boat," Rock said.
When boaters fall into the water, they are immediately hit with water around 50 degrees, he said.
"It's so cold that when people fall in, they aren't ready for it," Rock said.
Friday's rescue was one of several by metro firefighters in recent weeks. Gwinnett, Roswell, Sandy Springs and Johns Creek firefighters are often called into action for water rescues, which prompted the Johns Creek department to create its own rescue team, Rock said.
Boaters should always wear lifepreservers, firefighters urge. And by checking with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, those planning an outing on the water will know whether or not water has recently been released into Lake Lanier at the Buford Dam.
Water released from Buford Dam causes swift water currents, and this gets some on the river in trouble, according to Gwinnett County fire Capt. Tommy Rutledge. Those wanting to get into the water should check with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 770-945-1466 before and during an outing.
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