A 32-year-old woman was transported to hospital in life-threatening condition Aug. 13 after nearly drowning in the Bow River near Bow Falls in Banff.
The woman, who was canoeing with three others and a dog when the boat she was in capsized, was unable to make it to shore safely after falling into the river, according to RCMP.
“Some individuals were canoeing and one of the individuals went into the water and was later found unconscious and transported to hospital,” said RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Troy Savinkoff.
Details of how the boat capsized are not known at this time.
A resident who was on the scene and called emergency personnel – but requested anonymity – said the paddlers were wearing life jackets. She said the woman who was taken to hospital had CPR performed on her close to 30 minutes.
Parks Canada confirmed in an email all four members of the canoe party were wearing life jackets.
“The individual was brought to shore within 20 minutes of the initial emergency call,” said Emma Badgery, Banff field unit public relations and communications officer. “CPR was performed until the individual could be transferred to Banff EMS.”
A ground ambulance was called to respond just before 5 p.m., said AHS EMS spokesperson Adam Loria.
The Banff Wastewater Treatment Plant, about four kilometres downriver from Bow Falls, was used as a staging site for the ambulance, which transported the woman to Banff Mineral Springs Hospital.
“I don’t have any other details of what happened before we met up with Banff visitor services there,” said Loria. “And unfortunately, I don’t have an update as to that person’s condition at this time.”
According to RCMP, the woman was in stable condition as of Aug. 16, but further updates on her status are not publicly known.
Parks Canada rescuers, EMS, the Banff Fire Department and RCMP were called to respond to the incident, assisted by Alpine Helicopters.
“It was members of the search team that located her,” said Savinkoff. “Using a helicopter, they were able to secure the victim who was still in the water [via long-line].”
Duty officer John Stewart with the Banff Fire Department said medical care was administered to the woman from the helicopter before she was moved to ambulance.
“CPR was in progress via an automatic machine that can be used to perform good CPR on long-line,” he said. “That continued en route to hospital with the machine.”
There were no reports of injuries to any others involved in the incident, though there was a struggle to get to shore.
“There were other people that experienced difficulties in the water, but they were able to secure themselves and did not need rescue,” said Savinkoff.
RCMP reminds those recreating on the Bow River and other waterways to always wear a life jacket and be aware of water conditions before heading out.
“Speaking in general terms with water safety, the Bow River is a very, very cold river,” said Savinkoff. “Most of the issues I saw as an officer who has worked in that area for over a decade is that most people get into trouble when they try swimming across that river with no use of a personal flotation device.
“It’s very cold, the river seems shorter than it is and people can get caught up in the current of the river very quickly and get into trouble very quickly.”
Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Rocky Mountain Outlook