On Saturday afternoon, a car plunged into the slough along Highway 14/61 in La Crescent. That driver was arrested at the scene for driving under the influence.
When the car went into the water, the driver was able to escape without injury, sitting on the roof of his vehicle until help arrived. La Crescent firefighters used a foam mat to reach the man and pull him to shore safely.
Assistant Fire Chief of the La Crescent Fire Department Terry Fruechte said the mat was loaned to the department from Tucker's Powerhouse Marine. The firefighters had water training last Monday, and one firefighter thought the recreational foam mat could be a lifesaving tool.
"The guy was supposed to have taken it back before that, so luckily he forgot," Fruechte said. "We were able to use it, and it might help our decision to purchase one for the next time."
Fruechte said the department was considering the costs involved in buying a mat before Saturday's incident. Now, the department will likely invest in its own 6 ft. by 15 ft. mat. The alternative option is an inflatable boat which requires assembling on scene. Using a mat takes only a matter of seconds which can make a difference if someone is trapped or injured.