Every year, first responders in Casper have to deal with a variety of people in need of water rescue.

Andrew Sundell, Casper Fire-EMS department engineer, said the fire department responded to 19 water, or ice, rescue emergencies in 2020, and in 2019, they got nine calls from July to December.

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One of the ways that the city has tried to combat this issue is with a free lifejacket program, which Sundell said works well when people use them.

"The most important thing to pass off to people about the life jacket program is, number one it's available, and number two, please return loaner lifejackets when you're done with them. We restock them every week...but the numbers go down over time. Luckily we have a lot of people in the community that believe in this as well."

Because volunteers with Respect Our River help to restock the lifejackets, the fire department doesn't have to spend money on the jackets, as they come from donations the organization receives, which can sometimes lead to shortages.

Sundell said it's hard to tell if the program is working, but they've gotten plenty of people telling them how helpful the lifejackets are.

"We get people that come in saying thank you for doing this, we used the lifejackets last week or over the course of the summer. The lifejacket program makes a difference, but it's one of those things that's very hard to measure. If they're doing their job we're not getting called."

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