West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – Firefighters and EMS personnel rescued an injured woman from the frigid waters of the Lower Saluda River Sunday afternoon. Personnel for the West Columbia Fire Department responded and were assisted by police officers, medics from Lexington County’s EMS, and specially trained firefighters from the Lexington County Fire Service.
The call regarding the woman came in around 4:00 p.m. First responders quickly arrived on the scene and began to assess the situation. According to Operations Chief Marquis Solomon of the West Columbia Fire Department, the woman fell from an innertube she was floating in Once she was in the water, the strength of the river slammed her against a boulder while sweeping her along. She eventually ended up near the Laurelcrest Drive area of West Columbia. The woman was still in the river but was closer to the riverbank in waist deep water when rescuers began to assist her. She told rescuers her back was injured, and she couldn’t walk out because of pain.
Rescuers had to hike in utilizing a trail that is steep and slopes toward the river. Access for vehicles in that area is very limited, and sometimes non-existent. Chief Solomon said that firefighters from West Columbia and Lexington County were able to rig ropes up the hillside utilizing a, “low angle rescue.” This allowed them to move the woman from the river’s edge to the top of the hill suspended by the ropes. Once away from the riverbank, the patient was transferred to a waiting ambulance.
The rescue itself took less than an hour. The woman was transported to a local medical facility with non-life threatening injuries. News of her condition is not available.