A $6,500 donation from Enbridge has made it possible for the Winkler Fire Department (WFD) to purchase a multi-purpose rescue craft.
The need for water rescue equipment was first realized during an incident at the low head dam east of Winkler in 2016. Tragically a male teen drowned at the dam while swimming.
During the search two rescuers got into trouble after a piece of equipment intended for ice rescues dragged them under the water. Thankfully the crew was secured by a rope and pulled to safety.
Winkler Fire Chief Richard Paetzold says the new equipment will give them the opportunity to facilitate a rescue sooner, and give rescuers a safer platform to work from.
While Paetzold says they hope it will never need to be used in a real situation, the department is happy to have the security of knowing it will be available if the need ever arises.
"We did some research and found 13 similar water control structures in the region," Paetzold explains.
The structures are intended to slow the flow of water from the Manitoba Escarpment going to the Red River.
"These are also nice little swimming holes for people, so it could happen again," he says.
Paetzold notes the equipment will not only be useful for the Winkler Fire Department but benefit the region as mutual aid situations arise.
Since 2002, Enbridge has donated $8.5-million through its Safe Community Program across North America.