A fence slows response times for rescue workers at Lake Travis

The fence separates two parks. Sometimes first responders arrive at the wrong park and the fence prevents them from quickly getting to the other side.

AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds have flocked to Lake Travis in recent weeks to try and beat the heat. And with more people in the water, drownings have become much more common.

In one area, access to the lake is difficult and first responders sometimes struggle to get there in time to help.

Below is a map showing Bob Wentz Park and Windy Point Park. Travis County is owned by Bob Wentz while Windy Point Park is family owned. In the photo below, the red dotted line represents the fence separating both parks.

The fence was erected in the late 1900s, but now Windy Point Park manager Jan Barstow is asking the county to remove it.

Barstow said when first responders show up, they sometimes arrive at the wrong park.

If they’re in the wrong park, they can’t just cross over because there’s a fence in the way. EMS has to go all the way back to the main road to get back to the other park’s entrance and it can take five to ten minutes to find the other entrance.

But that’s time a person in danger doesn’t have.

Barstow told KVUE about a drowning that happened just two weeks ago.

“They come as soon as they can. They always do. I have great respect for our emergency services,” she said. “But they didn’t show up for a while and I was expecting them. I saw lifeboats in front of me. I saw the helicopter above me. Someone from a rescue team leaned over the edge and asked where he was while I paced the water. But the divers, the rescue divers, were late.”

The drowning man died. Barstow believes that if the fence hadn’t gotten in the way, emergency services would have managed to save him in time.

“I want that fence removed,” Barstow said. “I’d like a goal above that. I understand that there are two different companies side by side. But this fence prevents EMS from responding immediately.”

There is already an access road between the two parks. Removing the gate and clearing the grass that has grown over the road will help provide more immediate access for vulnerable people.

Barstow has already reached out to the county. However, there is still no clear timeline as to when or if the fence will be removed.

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https://www.kvue.com/article/news/local/lake-travis-ems-fence-response-times/269-90640942-d693-40f2-b112-2ff6223840a5 A fence slows response times for rescue workers at Lake Travis

Laura Coffey

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