posted: 2 May 2018
by: Kathy McCarty
EAGLE LAKE, Maine – A wish is now a reality after the combined effort of several agencies and community leaders worked together to secure an airboat for Division E of the Maine Warden Service. The airboat will be used to respond to water emergencies.
“The Warden Service received some grant money from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund,” said Lieutenant Tom Ward of the Maine Warden Service. “In order to qualify for that grant, we had some good support from County and area fire chiefs, police chiefs, town managers, EMS directors from some of these communities. They wrote letters of support and that was a great help to obtain some of this grant money.”
Lt. Tom Ward says in the past his division has had to rely on airboats from downstate, which added hours to their response time. Darren Woods, director of Aroostook County Emergency Management, says it’s about pulling together for the common good.
“Clearly we all see the need for that kind of equipment and we all jumped in the ring and started making phone calls and sending letters,” said Woods.
Ward says first responders, like fire and police, know how important having the right tools in an emergency can be.
“I think anyone in the public safety circle knows what kind of an asset this boat will be for the area,” said Ward.
Michael Gahagan, chief of the Caribou Police Department, says he knows firsthand how important a boat like this can be, having experienced such emergencies on the Aroostook River right in town.
“That’s why we supported it,” Gahagan said. “We’ve had our deaths by drowning in the spring of the year, so we could see the benefit of having that piece of equipment that’s available to all of us.”
According to Ward, no one had an airboat north of Lincoln. The nearest airboat would be in Greenville or Bangor.
Ward says the airboat will be kept in Fort Kent for now, responding to other areas as needed.