911 dispatcher: Hey Mom, I need you to make a river rescue

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Cindy Faubion, whose daughter is a 911 dispatcher, got called upon to make a river rescue. (Photo: KPTV/Portland)

CATHLAMET, Wash. (KPTV) — When a call came into a Washington 911 dispatch center about a water rescue, the dispatcher turned to her own mom to save the day.

A sinking kayak was reported near Cathlamet on the Columbia River Sunday.

The caller told the dispatcher: “My friend just went over.” That friend was wearing a life jacket and managed to pull herself up on a piling.

However, the currents and cold water still posed a serious threat.

Raedyn Grasseth, the Wahkiakum County 911 dispatcher who took the call, quickly realized she knew exactly where this situation was unfolding. She also knew her mom was in that very area.

In fact, her mother was so close to the stranded kayaker, Grasseth knew she could get there quicker than the sheriff’s office patrol boat.

“Yes, I could see her,” said Cindy Faubion, Grasseth’s mother. “She had a life jacket on and they’re highly visible.”

Faubion and her family didn’t waste any time. They paddled out to the stranded woman and brought her back to shore.

The kayaker was cold and shaken up, but not badly hurt.

“I’ve certainly seen a lot of water rescues that are not happy endings and any time you can participate in a water rescue that is a success and we have what we call a good save, there is nothing that is better than that,” Faubion said.

The family said the kayaker was from out of town and unfamiliar with the Columbia’s currents. Grasseth said it can be especially deceptive out there this time of year.

“Oh, she could have been dead in no time,” Grasseth said. “The water is really cold. It’s April, the water is 47 degrees. It’s a miracle she’s OK.”

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