Monday afternoon on May 9, Kay County dispatchers received a call from Kansas Law Enforcement officials stating that they had gotten a report of a body in the Arkansas river on the Kansas side headed downstream rapidly because of the high water conditions. Kay County dispatch notified our staff of the situation and readied them in case we were needed.
A short time later KS notified Kay Co. dispatch that our assistance was needed.
KSO deputies launched our rescue boat from the Bear Creek boat ramp due to the highly dangerous wind and swift water conditions. South wind gusts of over 30mph on the water and lake levels were at least 10 feet above normal.
Newkirk FD set up the Incident Command post at the River Road Fire Dept. Blackwell FD launched their rescue boat from the Sweetwater fishing area. OHP launched their rescue boat from Coon Creek boat ramp. Between all 3 vessels we were able to cover approx. 25 miles of shoreline (up and back) to KS. The vessels were nearly to KS when the information came back to us in Oklahoma that the person who reported the body may not have been credible based on other questionable reports he had made earlier in the day.
Our staff stayed on the river and completed a full search pattern even though they didn’t have to. The deputies turned a rather dangerous situation into a training opportunity that can rarely be duplicated with a “planned training day”. It would be easy to be frustrated about wasted time or resources but we feel that it is far easier to find the good in the training and prepare for the “real thing”.
Our staff executed the search plan and rough water boat operation flawlessly. I am very proud to have them at the Sheriff’s Office. I want to thank Newkirk FD, Blackwell FD, River Road FD, OHP and our awesome dispatchers at KSO for all the help and effort put into a good day.