Rafting organizations to place defibrillators along river for greater safety

Thursday April 26, 2018 0 comments Tags: Salida, AEDs, Brandon Slate, Rob Williams

SALIDA --  As rafting season approaches, the Arkansas River Outfitters Association (AROA) and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA), are implementing an unprecedented program to place AEDs along the Arkansas River for added safety during peak rafting season, May 25 -- Sept. 3.rafting-logo

AED stands for "automated external defibrillator," a life-saving medical device used in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. This sophisticated equipment delivers an electrical shock to re-establish the heart's rhythm.

"AROA is constantly looking for ways to help make the river better and safer," said Brandon Slate, AROA president and adventure specialist/owner of Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center (RMOC).

Slate said no other rivers around the country are doing this program to this extent.

"There may be a few AEDs around but no one's ever done a full-length river project like this before."

AEDs, encased in waterproof boxes, will be posted at select spots along the river from Leadville to Canon City. They'll be placed with the backboards that the AHRA has placed in strategic areas.

AHRA Rangers regularly check the backboards and will now also check and maintain the AEDs. An average AED will last 10 years with regular basic maintenance.

It's an expensive program, though. Each AED costs $1,200 and will be rented using AROA membership dues.

"It's just the right thing to do," said Rob Williams, AROA board member, firefighter and river director at Noah's Ark Whitewater Rafting Co.

"AROA's goal is to benefit our industry but also any user of the river. Private boaters are welcome to use them, too."

Williams adds, "Fortunately, it's pretty rare that they will ever come in to use, but when they are needed, they can be a really important tool,” said Williams.

“With CPR and AEDs, there is a much better chance of saving a life."