Orange County Emergency Service District No. 3 added another new member to their crew: a boat that has fire fighting capabilities as well as search and rescue, diving and EMS capabilities.

“There is space enough to triage two individuals on the bottom of the boat,” Bobby Manshack OCESD No. 3 Commissioner said. “They can provide EMS on the water. As far as I know, it’s the only one in the county.”

They will be able to fight fire, rescue people, help with boating accidents, recover individuals if they are injured or dead, plus emergency medical services on the boat. This boat also has a marine radio that allows them to contact other ships in the area.

“A lot is packed into that little boat,” Manshack said.

The pumping apparatus can pump up to 100 feet at 100 psi at 550 gallons a minute. At water level, it will pump better than that.

The OCESD No. 3 took possession of the boat on Nov. 26 and has had two training sessions with it so far. All fire fighters with this station will be trained to use and work on this boat. The diving training will be later in the year when the weather improves. Sonar and water rescue training will occur after the first of the year and will take place around Austin and San Antonio.
There was a drowning in the river a few months ago and the county had SONAR that the OCESD No. 3 used and was able to locate the individual but they didn’t have any training. “In February or March we’ll be sending them to a school in Austin for sonar operations,” said Manshack.

“We voted about a year ago to form a marine division crew. Their focus in the boat is to do search and rescue,” he said. OCESD No. 3 once had a marine division that wasn’t really functional. There were a few incidences this later year that prompted them to become 100 percent fully functional with the marine division.

The OCESD No. 3 now has four boats: two river boats, a little zodiac boat and another boat for inland, shallow water.

This fire-boat cost $40,000 and took about four months to get, Manshack said. It will be stationed at the No. 2 station on Hwy. 87.

“We were able to get the voter to approve a cent and a half sales tax, so that it’s not the property owners footing the whole bill anymore,” Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Judge Joe Parkhurst said. “Anyone that comes out there and spends any money, the tax money goes to us to help us.”

The OCESD #3 is a combination fire department that has both paid and volunteers fire fighters. The paid fire fighters man the station during the day and the volunteers man it at night. The new sales tax hasn’t been in effect very long, but within the next few months, OCESD No. 3 will begin to see what kind of funds will be coming in. “We are hoping soon that we can go around the clock paid skeleton staff,” said Parkhurst.

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