Would plan for small “safety stations” along the Mississippi River float?

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MOLINE, Illinois - Two local cities are looking into installing small "safety stations" along the Mississippi and Rock rivers, after a drowning off a public dock in Moline last week.

"It's an idea whose time may have come. It makes all the sense in the world. It's not re-creating the wheel. They do it in other places. Where there's water, there's danger," said Scott Williams, spokesperson for the Moline Police Department.

"Police look at it this way. What if it was my baby that drowns? I'd want to know why there weren't these things every ten feet?", he said.

Inspired by the act of a Moline college student, Olivia Ray, who constructed a crude but practical life-jacket rack on the dock where a man drowned last week after jumping in to save his son.

The wooden rack holds two adult life jackets, two children's life vests, and a buoy with a long rope.

"Here's this gal that sees the need and does the right thing. Here's someone who  just stepped forward," Williams said.

A representative of the police department is approaching the city council and city leaders about the need and feasibility of permanent versions of Ray's creation.

"He's speaking to the city council, and to the Parks Department, to gain a consensus," Williams said.

In Rock Island, the marina at Schweibert Park has two permanent "LifeRings", in case someone is in trouble in the water.

"We did have a kayaker that went over here at the dam, had a little bit of trouble and a buoy was thrown out and he was pulled in, " said new Park District Director John Gripp.

Gripp says the buoys for public use have come up missing on occasion, and are checked daily.

Still, he says, the park district plans to evaluate where, if anyplace, more buoys should be available at public access points along the rivers in the city.

But, he says, the first line of defense has to be life jackets.

"Anytime you're on the dock or in a boat, you should be wearing a life jacket. Please put a life jacket on. There's only so much you can do to protect the public from themselves," said Gripp.

Williams agrees, but says, a few lifelines along the banks of the river, couldn't hurt.

"If it saves one life. Personal responsibility is first and foremost. You have to be responsible for your own safety, but we also know there's far too many people who lost their life on the water. It's not wrong to have the discussion," he said.

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