San Diego lifeguards train for dangerous river rescues

SAN DIEGO -- Swift water rescues on the San Diego River have always challenged emergency responders, but seven new boat access points and a day of training for San Diego lifeguards aimed to make those dangerous rescues a little easier.

The new access points will allow lifeguards to launch larger, motorized boats for emergencies caused by rapidly rising floodwaters. In previous years, they were relegated to inflatable rafts.

Responders most often perform rescues on the river's hidden but substantial homeless population, living in encampments along the banks. But the swollen San Diego river has also swept up sightseers and walkers who wander too close.

Last year, 62 people were rescued from their hotel rooms in flood conditions.

And throughout the rains of last year’s El Niño, lifeguards reported 24 rescues from the overgrown river banks and thickly vegetated waterway.

City officials say that with the new access points, rescuers will be far better equipped to handle the next emergency in the San Diego River.