There has been an increase in river rescues on the North Saskatchewan River.

In the last week, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services has responded to six calls for either children playing on the river ice or people going onto the ice to try and rescue animals.

"That is six calls too many, six preventable calls," said chief of special operations, Bruce McWhinnie. "At this time of year, with the ice shelves shifting and moving currents, the river is not safe."

Strathcona County Emergency Services platoon chief Barry Bouwsema said thankfully, the county hasn't had any problems in the last few months, but they have had issues in the past of people going on the river or on the storm ponds. Given the current situation in Edmonton, Bouwsema wanted to remind everyone to follow the posted signs.

With spring break approaching, it is especially important for parents to remind their children.

If a resident does see someone fall through the ice, Bouwsema asks for them to call for help.

"What we do see sometimes is people might go out to try and rescue their animal that is falling through, and we just ask them to call 911 and let us, the trained professionals, come out and deal with it rather than them try to make the rescue. Then we have the animal and the owner in the water, which just compounds the rescue."

Strathcona County emergency crews do river rescue training every January, with a specialized team training every month to ensure their skills are sharp.

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