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Shoreline Fire improves water rescue response with jet skis

Response time would take up to 20 minutes without the jet skis and now is almost instant. As temperatures drop and hypothermia becomes an issue, this can save lives.

SHORELINE, Wash. — The Shoreline Fire Department has added two jet skis to its fleet to increase response time to water rescues.

Prior to the two jet skis, Lieutenant Blake Pritchett said they relied on other neighboring agencies to respond to water emergencies. They also sometimes had to rely on the public.

“Before we’d have to come down to a marina and possibly for lack of a better word commandeer someone’s boat or ask them to drive us out there to effect rescue, which is not really feasible," Pritchett said. "We need to have our own equipment."

Pritchett said prior to the jet skis, response time could take up to 20 minutes and now, it's almost instant.

He said a speedy response is crucial for water emergencies because minutes can mean life or death.

“Minutes underwater is more time where you’re not getting oxygen to the brain and you could pass away so the faster we can respond to the water the better,” he said.

The jet skis were launched in July 2022 and as of the end of September, the department has used them eight times. Pritchett said in that time, he’s confident they helped save lives.

He added that even though the summer is coming to an end, he still anticipates water rescues continuing into the fall because people will still be on boats while they fish.

As temperatures drop, if a person accidentally falls in while boating, hypothermia becomes a major concern and fast response time is even more important.

“Water temperatures are going to drop off pretty rapidly and then you’re dealing with hypothermia faster and faster when people are in the water," said Pritchett. "And most people aren’t wearing wet suits and things like that when they’re out fishing. They’re just wearing street clothes and maybe a life jacket. Once they go in when the water is 45, 50 degrees, it’s bad news."

Pritchett said the two jet skis are a great start and he hopes to further expand water response resources with a boat in the future.


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