The Baldwin County Commission has approved the purchase of The EMILY Swift Water Rescue Buoy. It’s a remoter-controlled, battery operated lifesaving device going to the Fort Morgan Volunteer Fire Department. Fire officials said it will help in their efforts to respond to water rescues when it’s too dangerous for others to go in the water.

“If we could just save one life, it would be well worth it,” Foley High School senior, Ridley Taylor told commissioners from the podium.

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Taylor thanked the Baldwin County Commission for taking action by purchasing the new lifesaving device. Taylor wrote the commission a letter last year following the drowning death of a 22 year-old Elberta man. It happened when he went in the waters off Fort Morgan to try and save another.

“It was awesome to see them take initiative on this problem along the gulf coast,” Taylor said. “It takes so many lives that it’s just awful to see stories after stories so if they could just do this project and save one life, it would be well worth it.”

The dangers Taylor referred to in her letter were brought back to the forefront in March when a Wisconsin teenager was swept away be a rip current. While education will be a big part of the ongoing safety strategy, the purchase of The EMILY rescue buoy will address a need that Fort Morgan Fire Chief, Glenn Stevens knows won’t go away…distressed swimmers.

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“We’ll have people swimming in some rough surf conditions. We’ll advise them to get out of the water. They’ll get out of the water and sure enough, thirty minutes later we’ll get a 9-1-1 call and it will be those exact same people that we actually told not…to get out of the water,” Stevens explained.

The department continues to add rescue tools as it can. The EMILY is another tool that will help in rough and dangerous conditions. It’s battery powered, remotely operated and is outfitted with a camera and speakers. The operator has to be within line-of-sight to run it, but with a top speed of 35 miles per hour, it can get to a swimmer quickly and carry them in.

Fort Morgan Fire-Rescue is made up of about 25 volunteers, but because they are all volunteers, Chief Stevens said they all need to be trained on using The EMILY.

“A lot of our firefighters work during the day and they’re on different shifts so you might have a completely different crew showing up each time you need to use it so we will so we will definitely train everybody,” Stevens said.

The EMILY is built to order by the manufacturer, but Fort Morgan volunteers hope to have it to use this summer.

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