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Massive effort mounted to rescue stranded kayaker

St. Lawrence County dispatcher
St. Lawrence County dispatcher(WWNY)
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 12:10 PM EDT
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COLTON, New York (WWNY) - Rescuing a kayaker stranded Wednesday night in the town of Colton involved a massive rescue effort by two fire departments, St. Lawrence County Emergency Services, state forest rangers, county dispatchers, and Fort Drum.

Emergency Services director Matthew Denner said a man in his 40s called 911 shortly after 8 p.m. and told dispatchers he’d been kayaking all day on the Raquette River, was exhausted, and couldn’t move his legs.

Colton and Cranberry Lake fire departments were dispatched and forest rangers were called in to a command post set up near the intersection of state routes 3 and 56.

After speaking with the victim via cell phone, responders decided to extricate him immediately because his health was deteriorating.

With all other avenues for a rescue exhausted, Denner said, responders called Fort Drum, which dispatched three Black Hawk and two Apache helicopters. Three of the aircraft were in the air by 11 p.m. and arrived at the scene in a little over half an hour.

One of the Black Hawks, guided by an Apache with state-of-the-art locating equipment, hovered over the victim while a crew member was lowered 175 feet to where the victim was waiting.

After the victim was hoisted into the helicopter, Fort Drum medics decided to transport him to Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown for treatment of dehydration, hypothermia, and shock.

Responders on the ground were notified of a successful rescue shortly after midnight and the command post was dismantled at 12:30 a.m.

At the end of a news release, Denner had this to say in praise of those involved:

“I would like to personally thank our two 911 dispatch shifts that were involved. They did an amazing job and a great line of communication with all involved were established. Both Colton and Cranberry Lake Fire and Rescue units, their training, professionalism, and dedication never goes unnoticed. NYS Forest Rangers with their support to our local first responders. Fort Drum their continued support to the neighboring communities, this successful rescue would not have happened last night and this morning without them.”

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