The Sheriff’s Amphibious Rescue Craft (SARC) took to the cold November water of Lake Winnebago (Wisconsin) for the first time Wednesday afternoon and drew solid reviews from those who will depend on it.
The $145,000 SARC is designed for year-round use and features an enclosed, heated cabin that can hold a driver, spotter and Dive Team members with room for a victim and paramedic.
“It is designed to cut the ice, throw it aside and then the hull passes through. We developed a patent-pending hull design,” said SARC designer Matthew Cain of Midwest Rescue Airboats in Kansas.
Cain joined Fond du Lac County Sheriff Mick Fink on the maiden voyage from Lakeside Park West before Dive Team members boarded the vessel for extensive training. Deputies delivered fist pumps and cheers as Cain hit the gas with the Sheriff in the passenger seat. Employees of Mr. Marine filed out of the business along the Fond du Lac River to watch the spectacle.
Cain will return to Fond du Lac for additional training when ice forms on the lake.
The Fond du Lac County Board approved purchase of the craft. The Sheriff’s Office Emergency Response Windsled (ERW) was sold for $16,000, said Sheriff Mick Fink. An $18,000 donation made by Joe Colwin of Mid-States Aluminum Corp., 132 Trowbridge Drive, paid for the SARC’s $7,500 trailer and other expenses.
Cain said the ERW was unsafe.
“It was like a pontoon boat,” Cain explained. “(Deputies) did not feel safe on the boat. That got the ball rolling to develop this for them.”
The ERW was loud, had no cover for deputies and required one member to sit above 40 gallons of gas, according to Fink. He said purchase of the ERW was a good decision by retired Sheriff Gary Pucker to deal with the dangers of Lake Winnebago, but an upgrade was needed.
The SARC can travel on water or land, as well as ice, grass, marshes and snow, Fink observed. Each panel on the boat can be removed and the cockpit can be raised for inspection and ice removal. If the engine fails and deputies are stranded, a generator can heat the cabin.