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It was a safer summer on the Upper Iowa River

Posted: Tue, Oct 6, 2020 9:05 AM

After a busy summer in 2019, emergency responders have been called to the Upper Iowa River a lot fewer times this year.

Nine river rescues were done in 2019, but that figure has fallen to just two rescues this year.  City of Decorah Public Safety Committee member Ross Hadley says that's quite a change, "given the increased traffic (this year)."

Decorah Fire Chief Mike Ashbacher says the new river rescue boat purchased this year through $42,000 in donations raised at Toppling Goliath has worked "almost flawlessly."  Ashbacher says the boat has been especially useful in shallow water areas.

The river rescue boat has been used in collaboration with the fire department's drone and the department's emergency lighting and siren.  The fire chief says the siren and lights have been useful for letting people on the river know that emergency crews are approaching.  That's important, he says, because there can be hundreds of people on the river at a time, especially in the more popular sections near Bluffton.