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Locator signs missing, vandalized on Flint River

“We understand it seems like it’s harmless but when we do need to use those signs sometimes it is life or death”
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 7:32 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Locator signs have become an issue on Flint River.

Moores Mill Volunteer Fire Rescue President Zachary Trulson said signs are supposed to be up every 500 feet. He said the signs are essential in making sure first responders can find someone in distress along the river. Now, a number of these signs are gone or damaged.

Trulson said lives could be put in danger if signs are missing or vandalized. Some of the still posted signs contain graffiti while others have bullet holes.

“Some of the signs that are missing are just intermittent up the river and it does seem like people have been shooting at them maybe as target practice. We understand it seems like it’s harmless but when we do need to use those signs sometimes it is life or death,” he said.

Trulson said in an emergency minutes matter.

“If they can find one of those signs they can cut a rescue time from several hours to a couple of minutes so we can get there and help that patient and possibly save their life,” he said.

Trulson said these signs are a way to help people in danger.

“A lot of the rocks in the river are very sharp,” he said “There are also snakes out here on the river. Some people that try to get out on the river especially when it’s flooded might not be strong swimmers. Even if they are strong swimmers, they may not understand the hazards. If someone drowns or is bleeding or bitten by a snake we may only have a couple of minutes.”

Recent weather created problems on the river as well, according to Trulson.

“They see the river as being up a little bit and moving a little faster than normal, and it looks pretty fun to be on the river at this time but when the water rises it can actually conceal different rock formations and trees and limbs that are down in the water. We typically do have more rescues in the flooded water than when it’s calm.”

Even during normal weather, people need to still be aware.

“A lot of the rocks in the river are very sharp,” he said “There are also snakes out here on the river. Some people that try to get out on the river especially when it’s flooded might not be strong swimmers. Even if they are strong swimmers, they may not understand the hazards. If someone drowns or is bleeding or bitten by a snake we may only have a couple of minutes.”

In order to fix the sign issue, firefighters have a plan.

“Currently we plan to go down the river and actually figure out which signs are missing and then we plan to try to hang up new signs. We don’t have a whole lot of volunteers we are always recruiting people so with that shortage of volunteers right now especially people who are trained and comfortable around the river.”

Trulson said the Volunteer Fire Rescue is always looking for new volunteers.

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