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May 21, 2013

MCFRS News Release

National Park Service, United States Park Police, Fairfax City Fire and Rescue Department, Montgomery and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Departments, Partner Organizations Renew Effort to Eliminate Potomac River Gorge Preventable Drownings

WHAT:    Press conference to provide background and context for wide-spread effort to prevent incidents of drowning in the Potomac River Gorge, and to reduce the number of hiking accidents on both sides of the River as the height of the recreational boating, kayaking and hiking seasons begin.

Reporters and news photographers will be provided a photo opportunity immediately after the press conference with Montgomery County, Fairfax County and Fairfax City Fire & Rescue swift water rescue boats providing access onto the river to show the hazards of the Potomac River Gorge and the river trails on both sides of the Potomac River. 

News reporters and photographers are strongly advised to wear appropriate footwear, rain gear and clothing for wet and muddy conditions!  

News reporters and photographers boarding the swift water rescue boats will be required to wear protective life jackets or vests and/or helmets before boarding (provided)

 
WHEN:   Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - 10:00 a.m.  Event will occur rain or shine
                         
WHERE:  Overlook #3 at Great Falls Park, Virginia, (a part of the George Washington
Memorial Parkway).   Great Falls Park is located at 9200 Old Dominion Drive,  Great Falls/McLean, Virginia.  Directions:  Take I-495/Beltway Exit #44 to Virginia Route 193 westbound (Old Georgetown Pike) approximately 4.5 miles west of the Beltway and turn right at the intersection of Old Georgetown Pike and Old Dominion Drive.   Follow Old Dominion Drive into Great Falls Park. 

There is free parking in the parking lot.  News organizations will need to walk approximately one-half mile from the parking lot to Overlook #3.   

BACKGROUND:    Rescue boats will be available providing reporter and photographer access onto the river to show the danger and hazards of the Potomac River Gorge and to show the hiking challenges present on both sides of the River. These trails are treacherous, slippery and dangerous at any time, but especially so when wet. Staff from all agencies represented have not only had to deal with pulling hikers who have slipped into the River, but also with an increase in the number of preventable hiking accidents in this area resulting in broken and sprained ankles, broken legs, head injuries including concussions and other serious injuries.    

The Potomac River Gorge is a 14-mile stretch of the Potomac River defined as immediately north of Key Bridge to just north of Great Falls on the Potomac. 

Federal, county, city agencies and partner organizations play a large role in helping to ensure river and trail safety and have a strong need and high responsibility to remind all visitors of the dangerous conditions present, and to have visitors take necessary measures to prevent hiking accidents and to prevent drowning.

 

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