Bend Fire and Rescue conducted rescue training on Stiet Street low-head dam near Pioneer Park Tuesday.
As dams go, these low-head dams are not very big. But they have earned the nickname “drowning machines.” Officials say going over any low head dam in any kind of boat or floatable brings a high potential for drowning. They say the dams should be avoided at all costs.
“Low-head dams are a particular hazard because of the hydraulic that is created by the water coming off the top of the dam,” said Brian Boyd, Battalion Chief and Special Operations Team Coordinator.
In this scenario, a mannequin was used as a rescue dummy. That mannequin ended up caught churning in that hydraulic flow.
“That water recirculates and can trap swimmers there in that wash and not let them come downstream,” Boyd said.