Firefighters rescued a kayaker clinging to a tree branch in the Delaware River in Erwinna Monday, Oct. 28, after receiving a call for help.
Delaware Valley Fire Co. Chief Rick Armitage said the woman was cold but unhurt. “I believe she refused medical treatment,” he said, adding the water was 56 degrees at the time of the midday rescue. Water in the 50- to 60-degree range quickly becomes dangerous, even deadly, for the human body, he said.
Armitage said the woman, whose name he did not know, had been in the water for approximately 20 minutes. He said he believed her kayak’s path had been altered by the current and she had gotten caught in the tree branch. Her kayak was later found downstream, he said.
The fire chief, who is also a swiftwater rescue technician and was piloting the rescue boat, said the couple were both wearing life vests. “They both had life vests on – good life vests,” he said.
Armitage said he believed the woman’s husband had called 911, but he did not know whether the man was in possession of a cell phone or had used a phone provided by someone on the shoreline.
He said the firefighters and swiftwater rescue technicians who responded to the river rescue are all employed by Tinicum Township. They work at the township’s road department substation, where Armitage just happened to be when the call came in.
Armitage said two drove along the road, and he and two others traveled by boat to find the woman. He said township police also responded to the 911 call.
“They had a visual on her, the police and the battalion chief,” Armitage said. “(Her husband) relayed to us where she was.”
Armitage said the couple later called the fire station and left a message thanking the firefighters for their rescue efforts.