Although county commissioners took no action on buying a rescue boat the last time it was proposed, a new proposal with a lower price tag got a more interested hearing Monday.
Hillsboro firefighter Rusty Moss told commissioners an inflatable boat for rescues on streams and rivers could be purchased for about $20,824.
Although the inflatable boat is not as well-suited for use on lakes as it is for streams and rivers, starting with it would buy time for the county to come up with an aluminum boat, Moss said.
When need has arisen in the past, a Marion Reservoir boat has been used, Moss said.
The problem with that is how long it can take for that boat to be available, Moss said.
Three people drowned recently at the reservoir, and last year two teens were stranded at the north edge of the reservoir. Rescuers waited 40 to 45 minutes for the lake boat to be available to get them, he said.
“It takes a while for the people to get called back in,” Moss said.
He added that most people don’t really understand flash floods in Marion County, which can wash vehicles off roadways and leave occupants stranded in minutes.
Emergency Medical Service director Ed Debesis said he fully supports buying the boat.
“Having to go find a boat to go rescue someone is a nightmare,” Debesis said.
Moss said the company that sells the boat is willing to work with commissioners on financing options.
Commissioner Dianne Novak said she’d like to know more details about the boat and financing options.
Commissioners did take a definitive step to help with water rescues by approving firefighters to attend water rescue training.
The three-day water rescue course involves classroom learning, lake rescue training, and rapid water rescue training.
Salina Fire Department also will be taking the class. It is not yet known how many Marion County firefighters will want to go to Oklahoma City for the rapid water training held there, so the exact price tag for the training is not yet known. Commissioners approved sending as many as 10 county firefighters to training.