Bobbing in Lake Lefferts a short way from the dock off of Ravine Drive, is a member of the Matawan Borough Fire Department waiting to be rescued by fellow emergency responders during a water rescue drill on Sept. 23.
Two firefighters climb into the department's new red Zodiac, designated as Marine-29-1, and launch into the lake, navigating four buoys on their way to their comrade, who is playing the role of the victim.
As they approach, they place the boat into neutral and float the final distance toward the victim. Then the rescuers deploy a brightly colored net, wrap it under and around the victim, and hoist her onto the boat. They drive the victim to the dock where they use a similar rolling strategy to transfer her from the boat to the dock, where in the case of an actual emergency, first aid members would be waiting to inherit the rescued.
The water rescue drill was essential step in qualifying firefighters, police officers in the Advanced Services Unit, and several emergency medical technicians on the use of Marine-29-1 and the proper procedure for rescuing a drowning victim with a boat. The Matawan Office of Emergency Management, under the supervision of coordinator Sgt. Thomas Falco, also participated in the drill to practice coordinating the command structure that would be used during a large scale emergency, Fire Cpt. Rich Michitsch explained.
Additionally, the drill served to make Marine-29-1 an active resource not only for the borough, but also for the Monmouth County Marine Task Force's mutual aid response plan.
Previously, the only in-service boat in the borough belonged to the Matawan First Aid & Rescue Squad. The addition of a second boat that is equipped specifically for the rescue of a drowning victim will allow emergency responders in Matawan to be more prepared for a water emergency in one of the many lakes or creeks, according to Michitsch.
"We've got a lot of people that go on [the lake], and we decided on a broader level that the town needed an additional boat. So that's what lead to putting this all together," he said.
The fire department acquired Marine-29-1 in Nov. 2011 and a trailer was donated to them at the same time. Since then, the department has been working with the local vocational students to prepare Marine-29-1 for official use.
"To get the boat in service we worked with Marine Instructor Bob Marrow of the Vo-Tech Program at the High School, who worked with the students to prepare the boat and motor as well as to rebuild the trailer," Michitsch said. "They were invaluable in the efforts."
Now that Marine-29-1 is ready and emergency responders have received proper training, the boat will be officially placed on the Monmouth County Marine Task Force in the Bayshore area to assist with the needs of the community as well as to offer mutual aid for neighboring towns.