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Commandeered Kayak Saves Lives

8/17/2018 |

It was early July when the Ludlow Fire Department received a call from a panicked young girl. Two adults and three children were actively drowning in the Chicopee River off Red Bridge Road.


Ludlow and Wilbraham firefighters responded to the emergency. The children and two adults were swiftly rescued with the help of borrowed kayaks used by the firefighters at the scene.  Tragically, two other adults that entered the water to rescue the children before safety officials had arrived could not be located in the river.

“Although it’s not a recreational swimming area, the beach may look inviting to potential swimmers on a hot day,” says Ludlow Fire Chief Ryan Pease. “When hydroelectric dams are present, a spot that looks calm one moment can quickly change due to rapidly rising swift water that can be dangerous even for the most experienced swimmers.”

"By happenstance, firefighters quickly commandeered two kayaks on shore," explains Captain Machado. "Early notification by the child and the borrowed kayaks allowed firefighters to save more lives that day."


While the Fire Department is well-equipped for ice rescues, warm water emergencies often require different tools. “Because of the limited access to this area, this incident would have been even more tragic without the kayaks,” remarks Chief Pease.


Hearing the compelling story of heroic rescue and tragic loss, PV Financial Group realized an opportunity to make a unique and meaningful contribution by donating a 13-foot safety kayak.


“On the heels of our 4th annual Slide into Summer Safety event, what a better way to support the future safety of our community then by investing in the Department’s arsenal of life-saving equipment,” says PV Financial Group’s Managing Partner Ed Sokolowski.

Demonstrating their mantra to plan with a purpose, PV Partner's Ed Sokolowski and Joe Leonczyk joined the Ludlow Fire Department to unveil the new equipment.


Captain William Dubuque is credited for spearheading the rapid ordering of the kayak.


“We only hope that this tragedy is a powerful reminder of the dangers associated with moving water,” remarks Chief Pease.


There’s been an unmistakable increase in the recent number of local casualties by drowning. Safe swimming includes adult supervision, staying out of water when one is tired, cold or overheated, following posted rules, never swimming in unmarked waters, and never swimming near hydroelectric dams.


“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Pioneer Valley Financial Group for their very generous donation. They have always been a great community partner to the Ludlow Fire Department and we look forward to working with them in the future,” shares Chief Pease.

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