Crews Practice Water Rescues for National Safe Boating Week

SACRAMENTO -- A boater falls into the water, the swift current dragging her down stream, and the water is cold.

"We're about 48 degrees right here, right now with the temperature," said Will Sumner, a U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary district captain.

It's a mock scenario rescue crews may have to face daily on the American and Sacramento rivers this summer.

"The main thing is to access the health of the person in the water, and then get them out and take them to shore as quickly as possible," Sumner said.

FOX40 rode along with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Patrol during Saturday's training dill. It says boaters have a lot to watch out for this season.

"We've got a lot of submerged logs which are 6 feet under the water, you hit that with a vessel at a high rate of speed, cause some severe damage," said Robert Schabert, a Flotilla Commander with the U.S. Coast Guard Utility.

The Drowning Accident Rescue Team, or DART, picked up the boater in the simulation, but originally the Coast Guard dive team was supposed to take part in the demonstration. Coming in on their day off, the crew flew in from San Francisco in order to help get out the word about National Safe Boating Week and to encourage people to use life vests.

But in the middle of the demonstration a real distress call came in, a search and rescue happening in the Bay Area after a mayday call was reported. Even though the team was not supposed to be in the air Saturday, it still responded.

"If it's a helicopter, it could be anything from it's a case in San Francisco Bay or on the coast or where ever, because they service that entire area," Sumner said.

Meanwhile, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon is warning even those walking along the river path to be careful.

"It's easy right now to walk right to the water because the water is high enough, and it's very tempting to dive in. Please don't do that. But if you're even wading into the water at normal paces, it's really critical to be wearing a life vest," Cabaldon said.