TROUTDALE, Oregon — On May 28, lifeguards return to the Sandy River at Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale. Since 1999, the American Medical Response (AMR) River Rescue and Safety Program has been a summertime fixture there.
“I think the number one mistake people make out here is kind of overestimating their ability and underestimating the current,” said AMR River Rescue Technician Gracie Goodrich. “These waters are dangerous, we're out here for a reason.”
On Friday, Goodrich and other lifeguards wrapped up their two-week River Rescue Academy, perfecting various rescue drills. Before implementing the River Rescue Program, an average of two people died at Glenn Otto Park every year.
“Our backyard was the number one drowning spot in the state of Oregon until this program came about,” said Troutdale City Councilor Glenn White.
In 1999, the City of Troutdale and community boosters, including Linda and Junki Yoshida, hired AMR to place lifeguards at the park. A few years later, the City of Gladstone also hired AMR lifeguards to watch over swimmers at High Rocks Park on the Clackamas River.
On Friday, the Kiwanis Club of the Columbia Gorge unveiled a bronze statue at Glenn Otto Park, honoring the lifeguards and the River Safety Program. Chad Caswell designed the bronze sculpture of a male and female lifeguard.
“I'm so proud of what you guys do for our river, and excited this program was put into place,” said Caswell. “I just want to thank you for your ongoing service and professionalism keeping people safe.”
Lifeguards will be on duty every day at Glenn Otto Park from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.