Officials: Milan Steel Dam Rescue Among Increase Of Calls On Riv - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Officials: Milan Steel Dam Rescue Among Increase Of Calls On River

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Rescue crews say the call to help two fishermen caught in the current near the steel dam in Milan on Monday is among several river rescues they've had so far this year. Blackhawk Fire Department Chief Jerry Mader says there seems to be an increase recently. Why that is he's not exactly sure.

Crews have made some additions to their response hoping for outcomes like there was today, but say people need to be more mindful of the dangers around the dam.

The two men were among close to a dozen people fishing just below the steel dam. Many people wade in the shallow water there.

"My friend got stuck on a rock with his lure," said fisherman Jeronnie Steward. He says that's when they moved toward the deeper waters and soon it was too much for them to handle.

"All we see is them let go of the bags and the polls and they're trying to swim. They swim out and get pushed back in, swim out again and get pushed back in," added Steward.

Chief Mader says his department got safety raft, which crews call the banana boat, for circumstances just like this. While the men held onto a tree stuck on the dam first responders threw a line so they could pull the raft toward them and climb in. Eventually crews pulled the raft into the shallow water and the men walked to shore in good condition.

"It's designed for this type of water rescue because there's no ends in them. So you can drag somebody in from each end of the boat without taking them over the side," said Chief Mader. "I don't know if people are being less mindful of the river or what but there seems to be more this year."

Yet, it continues to be high traffic area on the water even though some say they know it's dicey near the spillway.

"Especially when you get by these currents and stuff. These currents are very, very strong and you need to be very careful," said fisherman Sean Lucky.

There are warnings and barriers upriver from the dam as well as danger signs to anyone going near the bank below it. But officials say people need to take more safety precautions on their own. "If you don't know the river it's probably real risky... whenever you can wear life jackets and be prepared for anything," added Chief Mader.

First responders also made a call to the Backwater Gamblers water ski team. They were utilized last year for a river rescue. This time the team had one of its boats on standby just upriver from the dam.

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