Girdwood fire crews rescue woman trapped in rising tides
A woman trapped in a rising river Friday afternoon near Portage was the Girdwood Fire Department’s first mud rescue of 2018, according to first responders.
Fire Capt. Josh Heuer said word of the woman, stuck in rising waters about 15 feet from the bank of the Twentymile River, reached firefighters at about 2:30 p.m. Friday. She had been fishing for hooligan when she became trapped.
“When we got there we found a victim who was stuck up to her knees in the mud, and she had water up to her waist,” Heuer said.
Firefighters were able to break the mud’s hold on her using a version of a piercing nozzle, a high-pressure water hose, purpose-built for the department about 15 years ago.
“When the mud is tight and compacted, it sprays water into it at a high pressure, and kind of loosens it up and allows us to pull an object out of it,” Heuer said.
Heuer pointed to Turnagain Arm’s legendary tides – among the world’s highest – as a driving factor in the above-average urgency of the call.
“When people get stuck, it’s not getting stuck that’s the dangerous part,” Heuer said. “The dangerous part is that we have such a large tidal fluctuation at this time that when the tide comes in, they can get into pretty serious trouble – and it really starts a pretty substantial clock in terms of a rescue.”
The woman suffered only mild hypothermia from the incident, which medics were able to treat at the scene.
Girdwood crews responded after a 911 call was relayed to them – a lifesaving step Heuer advised others to take before tidal situations become too dangerous.
“Exercise pretty extreme caution,” Heuer said. “If anyone finds themselves in trouble, call for help early to get that process started.”
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