Nymph Falls is a popular swimming hole in the Comox Valley. File photo

Bystanders use rope to haul man out of swift-flowing Vancouver Island river

Comox Valley Search and Rescue volunteer cautions against river swimming

A group of bystanders used a rope to rescue a young man caught in high water last week near Courtenay.

But while their efforts prevented a possible tragedy, Comox Valley Search and Rescue cautions the public that might not always to the case when it comes to river rescues.

“One of the absolutes of swift water rescue is to never tie anyone into a rope,” CVSAR volunteer Mike Bryan said in the wake of the Aug. 18 incident at Nymph Falls. “Somebody can get pulled under by the current, and it can bend them at the waist, especially in a strong current…(But) They did their best and they got him out.”

READ ALSO: Rope rescue required after man falls into Nanaimo River

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Bryan recommends calling 9-1-1 and staying out of the water in the event of a river emergency. He also recommends not drinking alcohol while tubing.

“Rivers change, flow levels change constantly.”

At the time of the incident, signage warned that flows were above normal at Nymph Falls.

“And trees fall. It’s a wild river, it’s not an amusement park, and people forget that,” Bryan said.

He also notes that slippery rocks add to the risk factor.

“There’s lots of places to swim. We have lakes. I don’t recommend swimming in wild rivers.”

When CVSAR teams engage in a river rescue, volunteers wear felt waders, dry suits, helmets and personal flotation devices.

“This guy was very lucky, but it could have easily gone the other way,” Bryan said. “The rescuers could have got hurt, too. That’s another concern, we always have to try to call off would-be rescuers, and just let us do it.”

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