Despite heat, firefighters train for rescues on and off water

Jeffersonville Firefighters practice river safety
Updated: Jun. 19, 2018 at 6:12 PM EDT
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JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) – On a hot day, getting out on the water can sound like fun. But it can also become dangerous.

Emergency crews were called out Friday to Admiral's Anchor in Jeffersonville where they found a motor running, a man and a cat unresponsive inside and a deadly level of carbon monoxide inside. Fire officials say the carbon monoxide levels inside the boat were around 700 parts per million, a deadly level.

Clark County Coroner Billy Scott has identified the man as 47-year-old Robert Michael Toler. A cause of death will be released pending toxicology results.

As fire crews head out to the Ohio River for their annual training, they say it's important to be prepared for accidents both on and off the water.

"Dock three on starboard side," Josh Thompson with the Jeffersonville Fire Department said, directing the crews on how to tie off the fire department's boat. "Keeping your eye and your finger on that object, or that person is very important."

On the river, crews are practicing rescuing disabled boats and people in the water.

"You point to the object and he will maneuver around the object," Thompson said.  "Just tie him up, get him out of the shipping channel and get him out of danger of floating down river and causing further problems."

"Dangers exist both on the water, on the dock and in the cabin of your boat," said Jeffersonville Fire Chief Eric Hedrick. "There's a lot of dangers in the river in the way of the water, but there's also dangers that occur in your cabin. And the other night, unfortunately, we had someone succumb to CO."

In closed cabins, there's a particular risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. With the motor running and the doors closed, it can be easy for that odorless, tasteless gas to build up to a deadly level.

"CO again can be very dangerous inside a compartment. Or even outside near an engine that's been running for a while," Hedrick said. "If you have a boat that's powered by a generator, that's putting off CO. Obviously, the motors on the boat are putting off CO. So there's a lot of dangers associated with the water and being safe on the water. But being inside your cabin can be dangerous as well."

Hedrick said if you're a seasoned boater or a first time renter, it's important to be prepared with a lifejacket, emergency flares, fire extinguisher and a carbon monoxide detector. The Jeffersonville crews are ready for rescues but hope it's something people never need.

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