By Alex Foltz

The Muscatine Fire Department recently acquired a new rescue boat, allowing for faster rescues.
The boat, a Zodiac, is a swift water rescue boat. Kent Corporation Senior Vice President Rich Dwyer, trustee of the Kent Corporation Charitable Foundation Jeff Bohling, and GPC Safety Division Director Kevin Garrison presented a check for almost $10,000 to the Muscatine Fire Department for the purchase of the boat through Dive Rescue International.
The increased riverfront traffic, caused by further development of the area, was a driving force behind the purchase of this boat. To ensure that the response time is as fast as possible, the boat will be housed at the riverfront. Assistant Fire Chief Mike Hartman stated that the department had considered trailering the boat, but deemed it was faster this way.
Garrison said that another reason for the new boat is to make sure that barge workers have increased safety.
“One of the things that we are most concerned about, and our personnel are concerned about, is the safety of the barge workers. Having the rapid response capability that this boat offers provides some security for those working on the barges,” Garrison said.
This boat can be carried to the water by four rescue workers, and is planned to be used on both the Mississippi and Mad Creek. It will be stored inflated in order to quicken response times.
Once the craft is completely outfitted and moved to the riverfront, training will begin. During the summer, two to three rescue operations take place on the Mississippi, on average. Only two have taken place during the winter in the last half decade.