Union County Emergency Services Receives Wildhorse Grant


Union County Emergency Services has been awarded a grant in the amount of $9,200 for enhancing swiftwater rescue capabilities from the Wildhorse Foundation.


Due to an increase in water rescue calls in recent years, both Union County Search and Rescue and La Grande Fire Department recognized the need to combine forces for water rescue response. As a result, the Union County Swiftwater Rescue Team has been established with participants from each agency.


The Wildhorse Foundation grant funded the equipment needed for a total of six rescue team members.  The team members attended training and received certification as Swiftwater Rescue Technicians.


Having a local team of trained and certified responders will allow Union County agencies to respond quickly and decisively to water rescue calls.  This will also enable integration with neighboring water rescue teams such as Wallowa County to increase response capacity for resolving complex incidents.


An example of this partnership and training was the rescue and recovery on the Grande Ronde River in June, 2023 where a falling tree injured two and killed one in an area accessible only by whitewater raft.  Union and Wallowa County Search and Rescue personnel responded along with paramedics from La Grande Fire Department.


Without the support of the Wildhorse Foundation, this project would not have been possible to achieve without substantially sacrificing other emergency response and training budgets.  The grant award was a key element for Union County to obtain life-saving water rescue response capabilities locally and in the areas served through mutual aid.


Future plans include expanding the number of responders on the Union County Swiftwater Rescue Team by researching additional funding opportunities for equipment and certifications.

Media Contact:  Annette Powers, PIO  apowers@union-county.org




Posted August 18, 2023