Mile markers along Ouiska Chitto helping emergency officials

Mile markers along Ouiska Chitto helping emergency officials
Published: Jun. 7, 2014 at 1:56 AM CDT
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Example of mile marker (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
Example of mile marker (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)

ALLEN PARISH, LA (KPLC) - Emergency officials in Allen Parish are utilizing mile markers, setup along the Ouiska Chitto, for those who may need help on the river.

While the mile markers are not brand new, this is the first full year they'll be in use. They went up at the end of the canoe season last year, but already emergency officials say they're a tremendous help.

In Allen Parish, the Ouiska Chitto is known for its' canoeing, but many might not know how many injuries happen on that river.

Howard Maddox, owner of the Ouiska Chitto Canoe Rental says, "Jumping, swinging, and diving has caused over 400 injuries on the creek, 29 paraplegics, and a few deaths."

Because Maddox rents out canoes to those headed to the river, he's seen his fair share of injuries. So has Les Kolb.

"We had one call that a person was injured and it took us over two hours to locate the person on the creek," said Kolb, District 3 Fire Chief for Allen Parish.

Kolb says that incident was one of the main reasons they decided to install mile markers.

"The mile markers are just signs just like you have on the highway that we've placed along the river to help us locate a person that's either injured or lost," said Kolb.

The numbers on the mile markers tell you how far you are from the Ouiska Chitto Bridge.

Marker 8.5 is the last one of 16. And all signs are located off side roads that meet the river. Unfortunately, most roads are full of steep banks and require 4-wheel drive.

Kolb says the drive to the river alone is time-consuming, which is why in critical situations, he says it's even more important for those who may be injured on the river, to pay attention to the mile markers.

"If the people know the mile post sign that they're at when they call it in, we're able to locate them a lot faster," explained Kolb.

Canoe rental companies, like Maddox, say they're encouraging people to heed the signs as well. So far, they seem to be working.

Maddox says one lady, "ended up with a broken leg and we put her on a helicopter and flew her out, because it was a pretty serious injury."

When asked if she remembered the mile marker, Maddox said, "Yes she did, and she got down to the next one and it worked perfectly."

For additional information on the mile markers: