South County Fire teams try out new rescue craft during lake training

It was the perfect afternoon to be on the water, but it was all business for technical rescue crew members from South County Fire Monday. They were trying out a brand new inflatable rescue craft with a series of water rescue drills designed to keep their skills razor sharp.

The new craft, a 10-foot inflatable equipped with a 9.9 horsepower Yamaha 4-stroke outboard, is designed to be carried on South County Fire’s technical rescue truck, enabling it to serve all area lakes. The rescue truck is centrally located at the Martha Lake Fire Station.

“This is our third rescue vessel,” explained South County Fire spokesperson Leslie Hynes. “Because it’s transportable it expands our water rescue capacity, giving us the ability to respond throughout our area.”

Other rescue craft comprise Marine 16, a 28-foot fire/rescue boat based at the Port of Edmonds, and Boat 19, a rigid-bottom inflatable based at Lake Ballinger.

The crews’ goal is to be able to unload, inflate and have the rescue craft in the water in the least time possible. According to crew lead Capt. Bob Nichols, they’ve been able to do this in less than three minutes, but there’s still much practice in store to get it all down to a system.

In addition to putting the new craft through its paces, the technical rescue crew spent the afternoon practicing rescue techniques for assisting persons in distress while in the water, using both live “victims” and a practice dummy.

“With warm, sunny weather in the forecast for the next few days, our lakes are sure to be busy,” cautioned Hynes  “It’s important to always keep safety top of mind when in or near the water. Watch your kids at all times — drowning is often fast and silent, and a fun day can turn to tragedy in an instant.  It’s very easy to get distracted when you’re with a group, so take shifts as designated ‘water watcher’ to always keep an eye on folks in the water.  Know your limitations, and of course always wear a life jacket when boating or floating.”

The rescue crews plan additional drills on Lake Ballinger over the next several days.

— Story and photos by Larry Vogel

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