01.12.10

Leahy: Burlington Coast Guard Station To Receive New Rescue Air Boat

...New Boat Will Increase Safety Of Ice Rescue Missions On Lake Champlain

BURLINGTON, Vt. – U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and the U.S. Coast Guard announced Tuesday that the Coast Guard will soon deploy an air boat to Station Burlington to assist in ice rescues on Lake Champlain.  The new air boat will enable Coast Guard personnel to respond more quickly to incidents on the ice.  The importance of the new rescue equipment was highlighted last weekend when a tragic snowmobile accident on Lake Dunmore claimed three lives.

 In addition to unusually thin ice this year, ferry operations, due to the demolition of the Crown Point Bridge between Crown Point, N.Y., and Chimney Point, Vt., may create a hazard by loosening ice in areas that have traditionally been frozen solid.

 “People need to be extra careful whenever they go on frozen lakes and ponds,” said Leahy.  “With potentially treacherous conditions on the ice each winter, I am very pleased that the Coast Guard is sending Burlington this new air boat that will provide a quicker and safer response to winter emergencies.”

 Leahy began working with the Coast Guard to obtain an air boat in Burlington last summer after he learned that Vermont lacked this important resource for winter searches and rescues.

“We hope to prevent tragic outcomes on Lake Champlain like the recent tragic snowmobile accident on Lake Dunmore,” said Cdr. Phillip Thorne, the chief of response for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England. “The new air boat will significantly enhance the station’s ice rescue response time on Lake Champlain, but we are also urging people to stay off the ice.”

Currently, Coast Guard members must walk, carrying all of their equipment, to ice rescue scenes, which can take valuable time during rescue efforts.  With the air boat – which goes over ice and water – the Coast Guard will be able to reach more incidents, and faster.

Station Burlington plans to receive the new air boat next week.  The Coast Guard sent Burlington an older boat last week to allow crews to start training in advance of the new boat’s delivery.

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