Recent incidents in Sylvan Lake have caused town resident Chris Ehret to take action to make the lake safer for swimmers.
In July, Ehret was directly involved in the rescue operation of a man who disappeared underwater after getting out of the inflatable raft in which he was floating.
That experience motivated Ehret to seek ways in which the lake may be made safer to prevent future similar incidents from occurring.
“It takes something like this for people to start opening their eyes, and (realizing) we obviously need some change,” he said. “Parents have their kids playing in the water. You only have to turn your back for two seconds before they can go underwater.”
Ehret is seeking community support in his efforts to push for a lifeguard program to be implemented, and for lifesaving equipment to be available on the beach.
He’s even willing to start collecting unwanted and gently-used life jackets with the view of distributing them to lake users.
Starting the conversation with community members, RCMP and local elected officials is the first step in making the beach safer, he feels.
“Let’s see if we can bring up the idea, approach some people, and see what we can come up with,” he said.
Ehret was walking along the beach with his two young children on July 20 when he noticed firefighters entering the water.
After learning that a man had disappeared underwater beyond the swimming rope, he asked a nearby couple to watch his children as he joined the search effort.
After diving down “about maybe 10 or 12 times,” Ehret and a firefighter located the man, and eventually lifted him to the surface into an RCMP boat. CPR was carried out on the man all the way back to the shore, before he was transported to an awaiting ambulance.
The man died the next day.
Now, Ehret is hoping to discuss with community members ways to ensure incidents like this one don’t happen again.
“It’s just a matter of saying we’ve got ourselves a problem,” he said. “We’ve got ourselves an issue that we can find a simple solution to. Let’s put our heads together.”
Those interested in joining Ehret in his pursuit of improving lake safety are asked to contact him at 403-550-9729.