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Water Rescues Have Crews Rushing To Help

Updated: Monday, October 14 2013, 09:24 PM CDT

Austin Emergency crews responded to about 90 severe weather incidents between Friday and Sunday.

Those included four structure fires caused by lightning, six water rescues and 17 dangerous electrical wire incidents.

In Travis County EMS officials responded to 15 water related rescues over the weekend.

"People need to try to avoid moving water on the road first and foremost," said EMS spokesman Mike Benavides. "Especially swift moving water."

Some people didn't heed that warning.

Video provided to KEYE TV from STAR Flight showed multiple rescues from people whose cars washed off the road.

"Any rescue response there is usually no charge for that response," said Benavides. "However, if we do end up transporting someone as a result of a response then usually the victim or the patient will incur the expense."

Officials with STAR Flight tell KEYE TV when they take flight it can cost between $750 to $1,000.

Travis County acknowledges water rescues come at no expense to the person in need. In most cases, the cost of rescue is what taxpayers have paid for.

But there is a bigger challenge crews are dealing with, a drain on resources.

On Sunday night crews in Austin responded when three people went kayaking through fast moving water. According to officials, one tipped over, and a full scale response ensued.

Police typically give verbal warnings when people are on the water when they aren't supposed to be.

With a ban issued for most city waterways police say if people break the rules they have no choice but to ticket them.

"You're pulling in fire, you're pulling in STAR Flight, you're pulling in the police," said Austin Police Department Sgt. Jim Beck. "We're getting in those situations."

The ticket is a class C misdemeanor and could cost up to $500.

"You're putting public safety officials in danger at that point," said Beck. "We're trying to go in there and rescue you."

Not all rescues can be avoided.

Austin-Travis County EMS has these tips on how to avoid dangerous situations, and what to do if you find yourself caught in the water: http://www.austintexas.gov/page/turn-around-dont-drown.

By Adam Racusin

Water Rescues Have Crews Rushing To Help


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