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Three adults, one youth at Big East River Provincial Park

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Paul Calleja, Deputy Fire Chief for the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Fire Department, says a family’s tubing adventure down the big east river left them stranded in the provincial park.

“I think the trip just took a little longer than they had anticipated,” he explains. “They ended up getting on a sandy bank, an area called Big Bend Lookout and that’s where we attempted the rescue.”

Calleja says Arrowhead Provincial Park was used as an access point for the rescue. He adds the OPP and park staff were on the other side of the river while the rescue was happening.

“They were in good spirits,” Calleja says. “There we no injuries. They were just a little fatigued, a little hungry.”

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First responders arrived around 11 PM on Aug. 1. Calleja says the call came to them after the family had been stranded for a “few hours” but isn’t sure why it took them so long to call emergency services. 

He explains a rescue line was set up along the 50-metre slope and each person was assisted up.

“We’re proud of our people and the job that they did,” Calleja says of the rescuers.

Calleja says the department began regularity training for these situations more intensely in the last three to five years. “We have been able to increase the level of equipment we have here,” he says, explaining it’s only for low-slope rescues. The higher angle and tech rescues require a different level of training, which they don’t do. 

While getting in situations like this can happen, Calleja says there are things people can do to help themselves. Most importantly, he says to always tell someone where you’re going and around what time you expect to be back. “That could be the only lifeline you have,” he says. Calleja adds you should also have a way to contact people.

On top of that, Calleja says to dress appropriately, bring food and water, and check the weather ahead of time.

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