JESSAMINE COUNTY, KY – With Memorial Day fast approaching, safety is at the top of mind for Kentucky law enforcement agencies. And the Jessamine County Fire District is expanding its coverage on the water this summer.
In early May, the district announced the purchase of a new rescue boat, an upgrade that is nearly 40 years in the making, one they hope will save lives.
“Our past boat was a 1980s model boat that we used for many, many years and it’s time to upgrade and fortunately enough, we had enough support through the fiscal court to purchase this 20-foot newer style boat,” said Chief Danny Eades.
Upgraded sonar technology, a top speed of 40 miles per hour, and the ability to hold heavier gear plus more people are just some of the features that will make the roughly $100,000 “Marine 1” a game changer for saving lives this summer.
“We’re not here for law enforcement,” explained Major Chris Campbell. “We’re here to do the mission of rescue, recovery, or whatever evacuation that we need to do with this boat. And it’s there to help the citizens and in our partners in emergency services.”
Though long overdue, Campbell admitted there will be some challenges that come along with the change.
“It’s a lot bigger than the old ones,” Campbell said. “Right now, there’s only a couple of us that worry about, you know, putting aside the drive and getting it to the river. The more of a challenge, just those small roads, it’s a larger boat. But, those are things that, you know, those are overcome with training, mitigate those hazards so as we get more people trained on this in the hours in, it’ll be it’ll be more accessible.”
But those challenges haven’t stopped them from preparing for a busy rescue season ahead.
“Last couple of weeks, we’ve been on the river constantly plotting where all the hazards are, where all the boat ramps are, where the bridges, all kinds of landmarks that we can use for navigation,” described Frank Ruggiero.
And that service stretches far beyond the borders of their community.
“Any time a neighbor is in need, we’re more than willing to go to their need and assist with that,” Eades proclaimed. “We assisted in eastern Kentucky so anytime, anywhere, we will be there.”
In addition to the upgraded technology, Marine 1 offers the capability to fit a small four-wheeler on board to help conduct rescues in hard-to-reach areas, and its added space will allow EMTs to provide immediate medical care while in transport on the water.
Eades said none of it would be possible without the support of the county government.