Excerpts from theChicagoTribune.com:

The Fox River can be a dangerous place, as illustrated by two recent incidents. In Geneva, two boaters went into the river but were able to get themselves out of the water by the time firefighters arrived at the scene. In St. Charles, a kayaker went into the water and was helped by another boater and brought to shore.

The Aurora Fire Department’s 24-member dive team is trained in deep-water rescue and often practices on the Fox River, said fire department spokesman Lt. Jim Rhodes. Each month, the team trains for a different skill. Usually when the river is higher, we will do more swift water rescue training,” Rhodes said. This includes drills on how to retrieve or rescue someone who is caught in a situation where the river is running quickly.

The Oswego Fire Department has a technical rescue team with 23 members that specialize in swift water rescue, said department spokesman Battalion Chief Dan Schiradelly. “You have to understand the power of water,” Schiradelly said. In order to operate well in water rescues, it’s important that firefighters don’t fear the water.

Further up the Fox River, Elgin firefighters recently trained for swift water rescues near the Kimball Street dam, a spot that reminds how treacherous the Fox River can be. “Training here reinforces the challenges of river rescues and the dangers the river poses,” Elgin Fire Lt. William Nangle said. “It puts what we do in perspective and points to a harsh reality.”

That harsh reality happened on June 2, 1974, when Elgin Fire Department Capt. Stanley Balsis, 45, and firefighter Michael Whalen, 25, died while trying to save a young man from drowning. The two firefighters used an aluminum row boat with a motor attached to the back to attempt the rescue. The boat typically was used to drag the river for drowning victims, not for saving lives. But it was the only equipment the two had when they tried to save 20-year-old James Krueger of Stone Park, who had gone over the dam.

Firefighters went over how to rescue someone who had fallen into the fast-moving river below the dam, with Nangle discussing the finer points of “reach, throw, row and go.”

He explained that if possible, first, if the person in the water can’t help himself, rescuers can try to pull the person to shore by reaching out with a pole or other object onto which the victim can grab. If not, the next option is to toss a rope with a throw bag that floats in front of the person in the water for that person to grab. Past that, rescuers next option would be to use a boat to reach a victim, and finally, to enter the water to make a rescue.

…  alcohol plays a role in many water-related craft accidents and drownings …

… the Elgin Water Rescue Team typically is called into action about a dozen times a year, with many of those false calls.

…  drones … for water rescues are being used to survey the stretch of water where an incident is happening, for locating victims and obstacles.

thanks Dan