A woman in her 60’s was dramatically rescued by others recreating in the Clark Fork River on Friday afternoon after her kayak capsized and she was trapped underwater for several minutes.

KGVO News spoke to Acting Missoula Fire Department Battalion Chief Jeremy Williams, who provided details about the amazing river rescue.

“A woman in her 60s was on a kayak coming through a weir just at the east side of town and her kayak tipped over and she was (trapped) underneath the kayak for some period of time,” began Chief Williams. “She got flipped over and some bystanders on paddle boards and a bystander on a raft saw that she was blue, and we're able to get her to the shore and start CPR on her.”

Williams said by the time the Missoula Fire Department's River Rescue team reached the scene, the bystanders had already revived the woman using CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation).

“Amazingly, they brought her back (to life) prior to our arrival,” he said. “And then we got down to the patient on the shore and continued emergency care and we set up a line. It's a very steep bank, so we had to set up some ropes and put the patient in a Stokes basket and pull her up to the shore. At that point, she was awake and talking to us and she was taken to the hospital.”

Williams said fortunately there was a house near the shore of the river where they could attach their ropes to affect the rescue.

“We set up using just in the backyard of some folks that there was a house right there, and we were able to anchor off of their fence and set up a rope system,” he said. “We do that training every year just to stay up to date on all that equipment and all those procedures. You never know when you'll have to use any of that rescue equipment. So those were the two things that came into play. And then just our general EMS training that we do pretty frequently. Basically, every Friday we have specifically EMS training.”

Williams said the Clark Fork River at that point had many hidden dangers and caution is necessary, along with all the lifesaving equipment such as life vests.

“In that section, basically there are rocks under the bigger boulders that create rapids, so anytime you have a situation like that it's just more unstable and you're likely to flip over,” he said. “Especially along the Clark Fork, there's a lot of areas like that, and if you're not paying attention, or you're just a beginner, that can happen. That's one of the hazards of floating for sure. And that's what certainly saved this gal that there were people around her, and they saw her right away, and were able to help her, so yeah, floating alone is never a good idea. And definitely, if you do, you’ve got to let people know what time you're getting in the water and that helps us figure out where you're at.”

The woman was transported to St. Patrick's Hospital and was conscious and talking to rescuers at the time.

Her condition at this time is unknown.

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