Salida Fire Department Emergency Responses

The Salida Fire Department faced a challenging morning on Friday, May 10th, as they
responded to two simultaneous emergencies.

Swift Water Rescue
The first call involved a vehicle that careened off Highway 50 and plunged into the river.
Remarkably, the vehicle remained upright as it floated approximately 100 yards downstream
before becoming lodged on the river bottom. Occupants trapped inside the vehicle kicked the
windshield and climbed onto the hood. Salida Firefighters were prepared to enter the icy waters,
however the decision was made to utilize a boat for the rescue. The Arkansas Headwaters team
(AHRA), training for their seasonal refresher, deployed a boat to shuttle the occupants safely to
shore. Chief Jonke expressed gratitude for the timely assistance from the AHRA, especially
considering the second emergency unfolded simultaneously.

Serious Auto Accident
While dealing with the river incident, Salida Fire received another report of a severe auto
accident east of their location. The fire department immediately shifted its focus to the new
emergency. Working alongside Howard Volunteer Fire, Salida Fire personnel used the “jaws of
life” and hydraulic cutters to extricate an entrapped victim. Tragically, despite their efforts, the
accident was fatal. Chief Jonke acknowledged the difficulty of handling two critical incidents
simultaneously, especially with a limited on-duty staff of only four members. Off-duty firefighters
also returned to the firehouse to cover the citizens of Salida.

Chief Jonke emphasized the importance of seatbelt usage while operating or riding in a vehicle.
Buckling up can significantly reduce the risk of injury or loss of life. He also expressed sincere
thanks to Salida’s Firefighters, Arkansas Headwaters Team, Howard Volunteer Firefighters,
Chaffee EMS, and Arkansas Valley Ambulance for working together in very difficult conditions.

Dan R
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