Category Archives: Feature

Wearing a PFD Could Save Your Life or You Too Can Float Like a Duck

Bryanna R. Poulin                                                                                                    Public Affairs Specialist

 

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas—Duck hunting season is in full swing and whether hunting on the river or wading in back waters the risks associated remain the same.

Although many hunting trips could go seamlessly smooth there is no guarantee the next trip will be the same.

“A fall overboard or boating accident can happen unexpectedly,” Jeremy E. Wells, natural resource specialist Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

Russell Malahy also a natural resource specialist with Little Rock District USACE reiterated Wells by saying “A boating accident can happen at any time,”

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Even if a hunter follows every safety precaution no outdoorsman is invincible.

Malahy remembers a time loading his 10 foot boat during a chilly winter morning to go duck hunting with his friend.

“At that age I was bulletproof and ignorant to the world,” Malahy joked. “Off we went with about 2 inches of freeboard, loaded to the brim with our gear and a small horse and a half outboard that could barely push us.”

However as the two youngsters plowed through the water another boat came upon them at accelerating speeds.

“They trailed us for a while,” Malahy said.  “Then, I assume, decided they couldn’t wait and went to pass without a care of slowing down throwing a wake any surfer would have thoroughly enjoyed.”

While a surfer would enjoy the heavy wake the near fatal accident for Malahy and his buddy could have gone much worse.

“At the time, the only thing that came to mind was a few select curse words for the gentlemen, not realizing the dangers we just merely escaped,” Malahy said. “Call it luck, call it faith, call it whatever you would like but for some reason that morning we never swamped the little boat. We were not wearing life jackets, tremendously overloaded, and ill prepared for any accident. I think back about that day and ponder on the decisions we make in life.”

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Experience like this makes Malahy understand the importance of duck hunting water safety.

“Some accidents we are lucky to learn from but not everyone ends up as lucky as we were that cold dark morning,” Malahy said.

Even though Malahy didn’t encounter any incidents that day there are a number of things that could have gone wrong.  Both Malahy and Wells stress the importance of safety while in or around the water during duck hunting season.

“It is important to wear your life jacket and consider all safety precautions while boating and hunting so you can return home to those that love you,” Wells said.

“Being safe is important because your family needs you to return home alive,” Malahy added.

The most obvious safety measure would be wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). But some find endless excuses to not wear them.

“The most common excuses are they are bulky or hunters think they can’t shoot while wearing one or the water is only waist deep water,” Malahy said.

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Wearing a PFD decreases the chance of drowning. It doesn’t mean a hunter is completely out of the woods during hunting.

“Other hazards hunters face when boating during duck hunting is hitting floating debris, logs, running aground, taking on water, and capsizing,” Wells noted.  “All these things could lead to damaging the boat motor or lead to a serious boating accident and you finding yourself in the cold water.”

In other words threats are everywhere.

“Hunters could overload their vessel and have improper weight distribution,” Malahy added.  “There are underwater obstructions or complete carelessness and racing to the duck holes.”

Even though wearing a PFD can keep a hunter from drowning it doesn’t protect against the other reasons for fatalities.

“I wouldn’t say that all fatalities are from drowning alone,” Wells believed. “There are other causes of death like hypothermia, shock, impacts from striking an object and other injuries sustained from boating accidents.”

Basically since duck hunting season is during the winter nobody is immune to the cold water.

“Falling in the cold water or accident injuries could also lead to other serious illness or medical emergencies,” Wells said.

Of course if drowning doesn’t cause a fatality, hypothermia could.

“Other risks are cold water immersion, which leads to hypothermia, propeller strikes from falling overboard and not wearing a kill switch,” Malahy said.

Simultaneously wearing a PFD coupled with a kill switch increases the chance for survival if thrown overboard.

“If you do fall overboard, your life jacket will keep you afloat and the shutoff lanyard will keep your boat from running uncontrolled,” Malahy added.

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 If someone is wearing a PFD and floating in cold water there are simple life saving techniques for hypothermia.

“Hypothermia can kill,” Malahy said. “Huddle with others if you can’t get out of the water.  If you are by yourself draw your knees up to your chest and float.”

Nevertheless according to the U.S. Coast Guard in 2015 there were 428 deaths caused by drowning and only 63 had their life jacket on.

Yet wearing a PFD is personal accountability so it’s important to try to encourage people who aren’t wearing it.

“If you’re a captain of a vessel take a stand for safety and make all passengers wear their life jackets while riding in your boat,” Malahy said. “Also people can appeal to their friends and family to wear it for those they love.”

Wells believes encouragement and being firm is important.

“Try to encourage them to wear their life jacket, remind them that something could go wrong at any time and they need to return home to those that love them,” Wells emphasized.  “Or simply refuse to operate the boat until everyone has on their life jacket.”

Since USACE is the largest provider of water-based outdoor recreation in the nation educating guests on water safety is one of the top priorities.

“We have an aggressive water safety campaign nationwide to educate and inform the general public in the importance of wearing a life jacket, boating safety and just being safe around water,” Wells concluded.  “We do this though use of many outreach tools to include ranger interpretive programs, social media, media publications and literature, advertising, water safety booths at events, to just a park ranger talking to someone on the lake shore.”

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The most important takeaway is to always wear your life jacket and heed all safety precautions while boating and hunting so you can return home to your loved ones.

For more safety tips go tohttp://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Recreation/National-Water-Safety_Program/

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Millwood Lake’s 50th Celebration

By Bryanna R. Poulin

ASHDOWN, Arkansas— As the sweet aroma of barbeque circulated the air and the selection of meats roasted in a nearby smoker about 200 distinguished guests, community members and employees gathered under a large white canopy at Millwood Overlook, Dec. 1, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Millwood Lake and Dam.

Located on the Little River, Millwood Lake has been a key unit in the general flood reduction system for the Red River below Lake Texoma. The project was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1946 and modified by the Flood Control Act of 1958. It was designed by and built under the supervision of the Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Construction of the dam began in 1961 and was completed for flood control operations in 1966 at a cost of $44 million. The project was dedicated Dec. 8, 1966.

Students from Ashford, Ark., say the Pledge of Allegiance during the Millwood Lakes 50th anniversary celebration held Dec., 1, 2016.
Students from Ashdown, Ark., say the Pledge of Allegiance during the Millwood Lakes 50th anniversary celebration held Dec., 1, 2016.

Following the opening remarks by Steve Spicer, Millwood-Tri Lakes Project Office, operations project manager, Little Rock District USACE, welcoming guest speakers and attendees and the singing of the National Anthem, the ceremony kicked off with the two local high school students reading their award winning essays.

“Millwood Lake has always been a part of my life. I have many memories of birthday parties, family reunions, fishing with grandmother and learning how to ride a bike,” Christie Sain, a senior from Ashdown High School with blond curly hair and wearing sparkly purple shirt said.  “Not many people can say they learned how to ride a bike in a park at Millwood.”

Even though Sain has many fond childhood memories of Millwood, her connection with the lake goes much deeper.

“Recreation is a way of life as a child and now,” she said.  “It doesn’t get any better than drinking tea and eating fish caught on the side of a river bank.”

Christie Sain, a senior from Ashdown High School reads her essay during the Millwood Lake and Dam 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1. Sain who grew up on Millwood Lake was awarded 1st place and received a $1000 college scholarship. Sain said she has many fond childhood memories of Millwood and that it doesn't get any better than drinking tea and eating fish caught on the side of Millwood river bank.
Christie Sain, a senior from Ashdown High School reads her essay during the Millwood Lake and Dam 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1. Sain who grew up on Millwood Lake was awarded 1st place and received a $1000 college scholarship. Sain said she has many fond childhood memories of Millwood and that it doesn’t get any better than drinking tea and eating fish caught on the side of Millwood river bank.

Once the high school senior finished her essay and before she could nervously make her way back to her seat, Denny Gray, president and board of directors for Southwest Arkansas Water District presented her with a $1000 college scholarship.

“What a wonderful essay Christie [Sain] and it’s my pleasure to present this to you,” Gray said handing Sain the scholarship.

Following Sains powerful essay, Ashdown High School Senior Jacob Purifoy walked upon the stage and read his essay to convey what Millwood Lake meant to him.

“I can always remember from childhood to just a few weeks ago, those mini trips across the river channels and campfires on the shores,” Purifoy said.  “The rows and rows of hydroponic trees with dozens of fishing swarming… that make great catching on cool, breezy fall evenings.”

Purifoy talked about his midsummer’s days, where daytime television was mediocre so he would call up a friend to sit on the pier, bait fishing and laughing for hours on end.

“We would go relax on that old lake facing swing set or hitting up the horseshoes,” he said.  “I do want to point out, the friend I’d call up, is my friend Christie.” [Sain]

Shortly after Purifoy finished his essay, he was presented with a $500 college scholarship from University of Arkansas for coming in 2nd place.

A couple from Ashford, Ark., enjoy the scenic overlook at Millwood Lake after attending the 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1, 2016. More than 200 people attended the event and were treated to a full spread of barbeque food, cake and punch and had the opportunity to meet Little Rock District Commander Col. Robert G. Dixon.
A couple from Ashdown, Ark., enjoy the scenic overlook at Millwood Lake after attending the 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1, 2016. More than 200 people attended the event and were treated to a full spread of barbeque food, cake and punch and had the opportunity to meet Little Rock District Commander Col. Robert G. Dixon.

After the essays were read and scholarships given, Col. Robert G. Dixon, commander, Little Rock District USACE gave his closing remarks with a brief history of the dam and the reason for the celebration.

“Now about a half a century ago, people like us stood up in front of podiums just like these and gave similar speeches,” Dixon said. “As they dedicated this project to the people of this region and began an era where the constant flooding that used to plague communities downstream of here…was no longer a threat.”

Dixon shared the accomplishment of building such a massive structure during a time where many people didn’t’ agree.

Colonel Robert G. Dixon, Commander of Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talks about the lakes history during his closing remarks at the Millwood Lakes 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1, 2016.
Colonel Robert G. Dixon, Commander of Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers talks about the lakes history during his closing remarks at the Millwood Lakes 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1, 2016.

“Some of you might have been here in 1966 to hear some colonel from the Corps talk about the five years it took to build the dam and the obstacles they had to overcome,” Dixon said.  “These, of course were amazing feats. Constructing the longest earthen dam in Arkansas is no small task, and overcoming protests from three states and multiple citizens and businesses must have been difficult at best.”

Dixon talked about the struggles in the past and how building the dam was exciting for the town where the dam would eventually call home.

“You see, building the dam was exciting, newsworthy work,” Dixon said. “Watching this structure emerge from the ground and tame the Little River is a tribute to modern engineering and the fortitude of hundreds of workers.”

Colonel Robert G. Dixon, Commander of Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers puts memorabilia in a time capsule after the Millwood Lakes 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1, 2016.
Colonel Robert G. Dixon, Commander of Little Rock District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers puts memorabilia in a time capsule after the Millwood Lakes 50th anniversary celebration held Dec. 1, 2016.

Even though the construction of the dam was exciting, Dixon concluded the ceremony saying similar to the lake and dam, USACE employees were just as dedicated 50 years ago as they are now.

“Just as our structure quietly hold back millions of gallons water, our team of great folks are dedicated to quietly caring for it… the lake, its resources and this community” Dixon said thankfully. “Millwood Dam has stood strong for the past five decades and I am reassured by the dedication and professionalism of our team and the constant support of this great community, it will certainly stand for another five decades or more.”