Arkansas River Outfitters Group Adds Layer of Safety to Whitewater Rafting

To better ensure the safety of those whitewater rafting along the Arkansas River, the Arkansas River Outfitters Association has announced a plan to place automatic external defibrillators at eight key areas along the river.

The Arkansas River Outfitters Association announced the launch of a new safety program, just in time for whitewater rafting season.

To prepare for peak season, which runs from May 25 to September 3, AROA and the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area are working together to place automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at eight points along the Arkansas River.

AROA Executive Director Bob Hamel explained that “the Arkansas River is the busiest rafting river in the whole country, and it’s a long river. There are several sections and over 100 miles of river that outfitters float, and there’s over 40 outfitters here, so a lot of people, a lot of moving parts.”

Already there a dozen backboards to help in potential rescue situations, but in the event of sudden cardiac arrest, AEDs will be available to use until emergency personnel can reach the oftentimes remote areas along the Arkansas River.

“It’s not like there’s rescues all the time,” Hamel said. “But when you are running well over 200,000 people, things can happen.”

The medical device delivers an electrical shock to reestablish the heart’s rhythm.

“The idea is if an AED is there, it well help a potential cardiac event,” Hamel said. “An AED is preferred over manual compressions from CPR, so that’s the idea, is just to take safety, rescue, [and] first aid up a notch.”

AROA is first planning to lease the AEDs, which cost about $1,200 each, with money from member dues and assessments. Eventually, the group plans to buy them outright.

The idea is that it’s just one more piece of equipment that’s available in first aid these days, so let’s see if it helps,” Hamel said. “If it saves one life, then it’s all worth it.”

(Handout photo)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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