Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Members of the Elgin Fire Department’s water rescue and recovery team tested an inflatable rescue craft made by Colorado-based Creature Craft in April, for water rescues, particularly those involving the Kimball Street dam. The craft has a roll cage to limit its capsizing risk and to make it easier to upright should it tip. It boasts 40 separate inflatable baffles intended to prevent sinking.

More than 15 people participated in the demo including firefighters from East Dundee and Carpentersville. The craft tested and related accessories would cost about $30,000 and weighs around 200 pounds. An advantage the craft has over the one the department currently uses is it can be used both above and below the dam. The current raft is designed for use below the dam only.

The department’s current rescue raft is 20 years old, and the company that made it is no longer is in business. While the raft is in working order, replacement parts are no longer available so they have to be retrofitted. It was used in Elgin about a half-dozen times last year, although they’ve never had to rescue anyone. It is designed so it can also be used as a platform from which divers can get into the water.

The last death of someone going over the Kimball dam was a jet skier in 1995. Two youths went over the dam in a raft in 2012 while a friend videotaped it, but the river was low at the time and no rescue was necessary. When the river high, the dam can be treacherous.