When Mackinac Marine Rescue announced there’d be an “Open Boat” last Thursday so folks could tour the new emergency rescue boat, I knew I’d be one of the first in line! The boat, with its shiny aluminum cabin and fire engine red bumpers, has been a real tourist draw at the marina this summer. Everyone has been talking about it, and Ted and I have passed it dozens of times on our walks back and forth to town.
I knew the boat was going to be used for water rescues and fire-fighting, but I wasn’t aware it would also be used to transport medical emergencies from the island when the ferries weren’t running (after hours), or if for some reason an evacuation helicopter was unable to fly. Since the boat arrived in May it has been used several times to take folks with injuries or medical issues from Mackinac to ambulances waiting on the mainland. Patients are first stabilized at the Mackinac Island Medical Center, which has a doctor on duty year-round. Knowing this additional resource is available adds to the peace of mind of island residents, as well as the thousands of visitors who come to the island throughout the year.
The boat’s price tag was close to $500,000 – most of which was covered by a Port Security grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, with the rest coming mainly from Mackinac County and the City of Mackinac Island.
Training exercises and operations are on-going, and trained members of the Mackinac Marine Rescue Team and EMT’s serve on an on-call rotation to man the boat whenever and wherever it is needed. The U.S. Coast Guard often trains with the vessel out on the water.
The emergency boat was a visible presence during the recent Labor Day Bridge Walk and can be used for homeland security and counterterrorism missions.
For most of us the Mackinac Marine Rescue boat will just be a really cool addition to the Mackinac Island marina. But for some, for whatever reason, this boat could one day save your life or the life of a loved one. I sure am glad it’s available and that Mackinac Marine Rescue has added this resource to its arsenal of weapons to insure the safely of those who live and visit here.
Note: Information for this post provided by interview with Emergency Medical Technician Rick Linn. Additional information taken from article written by Stephanie Fortino in The Town Crier from her interview with Mackinac Island Assistant Fire Chief Sam Barnwell.