Law enforcement from around Oregon hosts annual drift boat training

SOUTHERN OREGON, —It’s the first day of summer. That means it’s time for marine officers from around the state to come to southern Oregon. They’re perfecting their drift boating skills on the Rogue River.

Law enforcement from around the state getting unique training this week on the Rogue River. Students are learning skills like how to swim in white water, hydrodynamics, practice rescue techniques, and operate in different environments.

“It’s incredibly important, 110% because they are learning the skills to eventually save others, and it’s incredibly important for all Oregonians that law enforcement and first responders have the skills to act fast and safely,” said Eddie Persichetti with the Oregon State Marine Board.

Sheriff’s offices from Multnomah County, to Eastern, Central, and of course southern Oregon participated.

On Tuesday, the first of the 5-day training, students learned self rescue and rope rescue techniques. This week, the group will work their way up to even more advanced techniques.

“We usually focus on this time of the year only because the flows are really good and we love the Rogue River it’s a great dynamic section of the river and there’s a lot to float here in Jackson County,” said Persichetti.

Organizers say opportunities for this type of hands-on experience are rare

With the heat wave coming up, they say it also brings them a heightened sense of awareness to be ready to respond.

“It’s good training I don’t know how to stress that enough,” said Deputy Garrett Olson with the Marion Co. Sheriff’s Office.

But they ask you to do your part as well.

“We need to think of hypothermia, we need to think about life jackets and make sure you have all your safety equipment on your boat,” said Deputy Olson.

The training will go until Saturday, when they’ll move from the upper Rogue, near Ennis Riffle and Argo Canyon. They ask if you see the group out on the water, to give them a wave.

If you’re preparing to hit the water in this heat, law enforcement is reminding you to be mindful of the cold water temperature. Some areas could hit triple digits over the weekend, but the water is a very different story. This time of year Jackson County Search and Rescue says water temperatures are still in the low 50’s. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, it’s very easy to get hypothermic and overwhelmed, by those type of conditions.

“All of our creeks, rivers, lakes they all come from snowmelt off so the water is very cold, and it’s going to be late summer before even the surface temperature gets to a swim-able to where you’re going to get hypothermic,” said SAR Sgt. Shawn Richards.

Sgt. Richards recommends not going alone, supervising children, and most importantly wearing a life jacket.


NBC5 News Reporter Jenna King is a Burbank native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at the U of O, she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through interning with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors, or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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