Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received a call around 4:30 p.m., from a kayaker who was paddling down Whitefish River when their kayak began to fill with cold water and sank. Fortunately, the kayaker was wearing a lifejacket and was able to swim to an island and call 911 for help.
The Thunder Bay Detachment’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) was deployed for a lifesaving rescue of the kayaker by helicopter. While the team was able to locate the individual, metre-high waves made rescue efforts by water dangerous.
ERT members were able to perform a rescue by helicopter. The kayaker was assessed by paramedics with Superior North Emergency Medical Services but did not sustain any physical injuries as a result of the incident.
This incident could have turned out very differently. Thunder Bay OPP is reminding the public to follow important safety measures if venturing out onto frigid waterways:
- Always wear a lifejacket or PFD. Many deaths on our waterways each year could have been prevented if the individual was wearing a personal floatation device.
- Review the 1-10-1 Rule for cold water immersion and have a plan for if you become submerged. It is important to note that effects of hypothermia can begin within one hour and help may not be available in that time.
- Download the What 3 Words app. This app is already being used by the OPP Provincial Communications Centre for its precise coordinates, which prove more accurate than traditional GPS. Downloading the app before you head out is strongly advised, as the signal may not be strong enough to download the app after needing life-saving assistance.
- Stay connected. Keep your phone in a waterproof case and always ensure it is fully charged before heading out. It is important to note that not all locations in OPP jurisdiction have cell phone service. Do your research, talk to locals and consider a satellite phone.