Two women injured in a boating accident off Keeywadin Island Wednesday may be the last medical passengers transported by Marco Island’s old rescue boat.
While the women were being shuttled to a waiting ambulance on backboards stretched between the forward gunwales of the old boat, a new 34-foot, 3-inch MedStorm rescue vessel was rolling onto Marco Island.
The vessel, designated “Boat 50” for Marco’s Fire Station, was lowered into the water at Rose Marina and docked at Walker’s Hideaway Marina next to Marco Island’s Fire Station 51.
Fire Chief Mike Murphy said the new boat should be in service by Feb. 3.
“The new vessel is well equipped to handle boating emergencies and superlative patient care and rescue,” said Murphy as he inspected the advanced life support treatment area.
Two or three patients on backboards can receive emergency medical treatment while the boat is in transit to landside transportation, he said.
Captain Tom Bogan of the Fire Department will be responsible for staff training and vessel operations.
On Wednesday, Bogan worked with Mike Welsh, project manager from MetalCraft Marine that designed and produced the vessel. Welsh flew to Marco while the boat was transported 1,600-miles from Kingston, Ontario, where it was assembled.
The Medstorm was built in Canada but has all American-made parts and metal, he said. The aluminum vessel has a stern platform designed to float patients onto the craft. Powered by twin Alamarine Jet drives, it can reach a top speed of 42 mph.
Welsh demonstrated the vessel’s navigation and search capabilities including an infrared heat sensor that detects life forms floating in the water day or night. The vessel is equipped with underwater lights for night searches and docking.
Bogan said the distance from Station 51 on East Elkcam Circle to the Marco River is about a half mile. To the Gulf of Mexico, he estimated the distant to be about three miles.
In addition to rescue, the vessel can pump 1,500 gallons per minute through two bow mounted nozzles when aimed at burning vessels or fires on the shore. It also is equipped with 40 gallons of Class B foam for fire suppression.
A dock with lift will be constructed on the south side seawall of Station 51’s property to secure the boat when it is not in service.
It will take at least two weeks to ready the vessel. During that time, fire-rescue staff will conduct sea trials and training, and equip the vessel for service.
A dedication ceremony will be held at 3 p.m., Monday, Feb. 3, at the Marco Island Yacht Club. The public is invited and the Fire Department plans to allow individuals onto the vessel and perhaps offer short trips until nightfall.
The vessel will be christened the “J.W. Adams” in honor of Jerry Adams, a Marco firefighter/engineer, who lost his battle with cancer on Feb. 15, 2013.