Auburn State Recreation Area Requires Response From 3 Different Agencies For Any Call For Help

AUBURN (CBS13) — Summertime is a busy season for first responders. With wildfires kicking up in the region and plenty to do on the roadways, agencies have their hands full.

Auburn State Recreation Area is one place that requires a response from three different agencies every time someone calls for help.

The area has hiking and biking trails and plenty of water to spend time near, but agencies say as the season heats up, the area, especially the river, gets more dangerous.

“People who’ve never been out here, they underestimate it,” said Auburn resident Colby.

Colby and his five-year-old son Sam swim in the American River all the time.

“We just stay in the shallows right there,” Colby said. “He has his wet suit on, his life jacket.”

And the father-son duo has also learned what not to do.

“Don’t trust the river at all. Stay away from the strong currents,” Colby said.

Water warning signs line Highway 49. Agencies hope visitors take them seriously, but if not, they’re ready to respond.

“We have a Placer County technical rescue team,” said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jeremy Rochholz.

Cal Fire, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office and California State Parks swift water lifeguards have a signed memorandum to protect the Auburn State Recreation Area. When a call goes out, all three agencies have to respond together.

“We just find it’s better when we all three come together,” said Sgt. Kevin Griffiths with the sheriff’s office.

But even just one call takes an enormous amount of resources. State Parks’ swift water lifeguard team is on scene first, followed by engines, officers and, at times, even helicopters.

“It’s not just the units working that day. The call goes to the other 11 members of the sheriff’s office responding from homes, courthouse, [and] the jail to come help out,” Griffiths said.

But is there anything the public can do to help out?

“Be educated, try to make smart decisions,” Rochholz said. “You never know on any given day what’s going to happen.”

We did reach out to California State Parks to talk to them directly about their swift water lifeguards and if they plan on hiring more for the summer. We have not heard back.