By Rita DuChateau
What could be better after the Fourth of July parade than a Smokin’ Dave’s buffet and dessert from the Colorado Cherry Company? Some straight talk on swift water safety and an introduction to new water safety stations made available in Pinewood Springs.
Nearly two hundred neighbors listened to a presentation made by members of the Pinewood Springs Fire Protection District introducing the recently installed equipment. In attendance was Pinewood Fire Chief Dick Wilcox, along with first responders from Boulder and Larimer Counties, Estes Park and Big Meadows. They joined the Pinewood parade earlier that morning and
then came to the community picnic near the Little Thompson River.
During the presentation, Firefighter Andrew Hart emphasized situational awareness as the key to helping others: knowing that river banks may be unstable and undercut with flowing water, that mossy rocks can be treacherous and that eddies may be more powerful that they appear. He demonstrated use of the life vest to provide safety to the person on the shore, a rescue rope and life ring to be thrown to the person in the water and an air horn to sound an alert to neighbors for help and the need to call 911.
“The rescue line is designed so that a rescuer can put the fixed end on his or her non-dominant hand, then throw the line and ring to the party in need of rescue,” Hart explained before he threw the line to Lt. Jessica Bologna, simulating a rescue.
Three easy-to-spot boxes are in the granite boulder area called The Tubs, two at Crescent Lake and two at the nearby reservoir.
“This is an ongoing effort in the community, and the fire district welcomes your suggestions, “Hart said.
Hart and Bologna encouraged community members to visit the department’s website at www.pinewoodspringsfire.org/water-safety to read the five-page document, “Swift Water Safety and Prevention Tips” prepared with input from local experts. The document is dedicated “to the memory of Daniel and Jacob Foreman, two children who lost their lives in the Little Thompson River on May 8, 2016, and to the first responders who work to keep us safe.” A video explaining the use of the rescue equipment is in the planning stages and will be available on the department’s website, officials said.
At the conclusion of the program, Lt. Ted Plank recognized the first responders from Boulder and Larimer counties present, many of whom participated in the rescue efforts for Daniel and Jacob last year.
“They have our backs and we really appreciate it,” he said.
Following the program, Troop 360 Boy Scouts Ian and Riley Walker of Pinewood Springs explained the contents of the bright red rescue boxes and answered residents’ questions. Ian has been part of the planning group for a year.
“I have to act on this,” Ian recalled thinking after the tragedy. He met with staff at the Pinewood Springs Fire Protection District to explore safety measures. A group of staff and local volunteers began to meet and discuss the critical contents and design of the weatherproof rescue boxes.
Bologna praised Ian and his determination to do something positive as a result of the death of two children.
“We partnered with Ian early in the project,” she said. “It was important that whatever we did would focus on keeping the rescuer safe and the equipment secure while providing a tangible way to rescue a person in need. We are the first department in the local area that has been able to do this for the community.”
Shane Walker, Pinewood Springs resident and father of Ian and Riley, took a moment from the picnic to reflect on the past year.
“The way our community came together was so impressive. It has been a positive experience for Ian to see and be a part of the collaboration,” Walker said.
Jeff Foreman, father of Daniel and Jacob, said his neighbors’ support has helped him through the past year.
“They all know of the tragedy and have given me stability and support. I am so grateful,” he said.
Foreman noted that the rescue boxes were funded with donations. A gofundme.com campaign started in May 2016 by his neighbor Lisa Durham Phillips has raised over $39,000, according to the site.
“This is a gratifying day. The cabinets and equipment will be here forever. This is a kickoff event for what we hope will be a safer environment for our community and guests for a very long time,” Foreman said.
Paul and Jan Foreman, Jeff’s parents, were at the parade, safety demonstration and community picnic. They have also supported their son as he brings water safety lessons to Colorado children through the Josh the Baby Otter project, which visited local schools in May.
“I am in awe of the turnout and the support,” Jan said.
As she walked toward The Tubs to point out the location of one of the stations, Bologna shared the importance of the partnership between residents and first responders on this project.
“As a community advocate for the fire department, I want people to have access to basic rescue equipment,” Bologna said. “This is a useful way we can empower the community to act quickly should rescue be needed, given there is no cell service in this rural area. It’s an important first step as responders are being notified and a reminder that residents should always be proactive.”