LEE COUNTY, FL — Here in Southwest Florida, we’re surrounded by a lot of water here, and Lee County Sheriff’s Office Marine Units train weekly to be prepared for anything that happens on the water.
“We train for anything that comes our way and that’s very important on our waterways those storms roll in fast, people we’re out there it’s not like you’re in a vehicle where we can get it to you right away,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
Although the water is beautiful, it can also be dangerous. This is why the Lee County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit constantly keeps an eye out to be prepared and ready to jump into action when something takes a turn.
The LCSO Marine Unit trains for all types of circumstances and in all types of weather conditions…”The water presents a different dynamic and sometimes those response times are critical comes to life,” Sheriff Marceno.
Crews train for high-speed pick-ups where they can swoop you up onto the boat, or other types of training, where crews throw out a rescue line when water is too rough.
Crews also use equipment called a stokes litter – which is equipment that gets used for anything when there are injuries and you need to get out of the water.
Then there’s MERT – the Marine Emergency Response Team.
“Most importantly MERT, emergency response team there’s a swimmer in the water a swimmer who is in distress, the boat or in distress we activate mark that means. FMPD, Coast Guard, Sanibel Police, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office so we all come in we activate and we respond accordingly,” Sheriff Marceno.
The Sheriff’s Office says MERT as a whole responds to roughly 300 emergency calls a year.
On top of rescues and recoveries – the group patrols to check on proper life jackets and watches out for speeds. The marine unit also watches out for marine life by protecting manatees and dolphins.
“Lee County is over 12-hundred miles of land and sea and most of it is waterways, barrier islands we are one of the top 3 when it comes to the grid of the busiest in boating registered boaters,” says Sheriff Mareno.
Lieutenant Nyce says the Marine Unit has 14 vessels from their smaller 13-foot rescue inflatables up to their triple engine boats. Which are all necessary to work for all different kinds of water from canals and ponds to the gulf.
“Make certain that if you were going to be on the water we want you to have fun we want you to be safe and understand that you need all the things to make certain of that meaning your safety vest you’re utilizing the safety equipment your flare gun all the different things that if something goes wrong you’re able to get us and tell us where you are so we can get there and help you,” says Sheriff Marceno.