In June, this column mentioned that the Rockaway Beach Volunteer Fire Department was doing practice rescues with an EMILY (EMergency Integrated Lifesaving LanYard), a 4-foot robotic buoy that can swim through riptides at a top speed of 24 mph to save swimmers in distress that lifeguards can’t reach (pictured, inset, courtesy of emilyrobot.com).
Swimmers in trouble can use EMILY as a flotation device until rescuers can arrive, or EMILY and the swimmer(s) can be pulled to shore via an 800-yard rescue line, even through heavy surf and currents.
Well, all that practice at Rockaway Beach paid off on July 8. “Just before 6 this evening, Rockaway Fire responded to a water rescue call off of N. Sixth Ave.,” the fire department posted on its Facebook page. “After a short visual search, three victims were located approximately 100 yards beyond the beach, after being pulled out by a rip current.
“Our USV (unmanned surface vehicle) was deployed, and all three victims were successfully rescued with its use. … Our thanks to the Rockaway Police officers, Nehalem Fire and Rescue and the Coast Guard for their help.” A photo of the rescue is shown, courtesy of the RBVFD.
Two boys were saved, and one’s aunt, Bridgette Gustin, who swam out to help them. She brought them life jackets, then couldn’t get the boys back to shore, according to a story on KGW.com (bit.ly/KGWRockaway). Which is when EMILY zoomed out to the rescue. Luckily, all three of them are fine.
“That is a life saver, like right there,” a grateful Gustin told KGW. “I think every beach needs to have that.” She’s right.