Authorities and emergency personnel stayed busy at the Salt River Recreational Area in east Mesa over Memorial Day weekend, responding to 30 incidents including drownings of a man and a woman in their 20s, according to information from Rural Metro Fire Department.
On Monday alone, there were more than 8,000 people tubing on the Salt River, causing the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office to beef up personnel and Rural Metro to run three ambulances at one time and place a squad truck with a firefighter and an EMT at the river, according to Mark Cichocki, a Rural Metro Fire spokesman.
"Every age group is out there, and any recreational accidents can happen," Cichocki said. We anticipated that, and set up extra personnel for that. People get in that cold water and think they're doing fine. Our big issue is dehydration, and alcohol is not good for hydrating yourself."
Sheriff's deputies also closed down roads leading into the recreational area off of Power Road and restricted parking for what is its busiest weekend of the tubing season.
The names of the two drowning victims were not available.
Although the number of emergency personnel responding to incidents on the Salt River were high during the holiday weekend, the number of mishaps were pretty normal for a holiday weekend, according to Mark Cichocki, a Rural Metro fire spokesman.
The strong flowing cold water allows floaters to believe their bodies are doing fine, but drinking alcohol in temperatures reaching 100 degrees isn't a good mix, Cichocki said.
"Drink plenty of water," he said.
Knowing how to swim also is important, he added, and to look out for others while floating in groups along the river. Pay attention to who is in your group.
"Drinking, tubing and heat is a bad mix," Cichocki said.