Coast Guard Station Receives New Rescue Airboat

The U.S. Coast Guard’s station in Burlington, Vt., is scheduled to receive a new air boat today to assist in ice rescues on Lake Champlain.

According to USCG, the new airboat will be one of the many tools that Station Burlington uses to increase its response and on-scene times. The importance of the new rescue equipment was highlighted earlier this month 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’s Point Bridge between Crown’s Point, N.Y., and Chimney Point, Vt., may create a hazard by loosening ice in areas that have traditionally been frozen solid, USCG said.

“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 airboat will significantly enhance the station’s ice rescue response time on Lake Champlain, but we are also urging people to stay off the ice.”

“People need to be extra careful whenever they go on frozen lakes and ponds,” said U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “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 response to winter emergencies.”

Leahy advocated for USCG to obtain an airboat in Burlington last summer upon learning of the value it would add to search and rescue responses in Vermont. Station personnel will receive training on the new boat prior to responding to search and rescue cases with the new airboat on Lake Champlain. The training will focus on the safe operation of the boat and proper maintenance.

Currently, USCG members must walk -- carrying all of their equipment -- to any ice rescue scenes, which can take valuable time in rescue efforts. With the airboat, which goes over ice and water, rescuers will be able to reach more incidents and get there faster.

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