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SLVFD’s new Marine -1 Airboat responds to its maiden search and ice rescue call. Rescuing two indiviuals.
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By SLVFD News Room
February 6, 2022

The Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid to the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department a little before midnight Thursday February 3rd for an active search and ice rescue / recovery. The call was initially reported as two snowmobilers through the ice, with one person in the water possibly under the ice shelf and one on top of the ice. The incident took place in the middle of Thursday night’s snowstorm.

SLVFD’s Ice and URRDT (Underwater Rescue / Recovery Dive Team) responded with two trucks, Heavy Rescue 147, Utility 146, Marine 1, three divers and three additional members.

Upon arrival, SLVFD assisted the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department further expand their search efforts for the two missing snowmobilers utilizing SLVFD’s new search and rescue airboat, Marine-1. The search and rescue operations lead by TLVFD included TLVRS, NYSP, NYSP URT team and the SLVFD Ice and URRDT.

Marine – 1 initiated its search and rescue efforts, at approximately 12:53 AM on Friday, morning with ice rescue technicians, line tenders, and TLVFD members familiar with the lake to assist the airboat operator with navigating the lake. The first missing snowmobiler was located approximately 10 minutes later across the lake on an island in a small bay. The individual reported to the airboat crew he last saw the second victim in the water and had last heard him yelling about 10 minutes prior. Given the new information provided Marine -1 continued its search for the second snowmobiler and was able to quickly locate where the snowmobiler had fallen through the ice. Based on visual clues on scene, Marine -1 continued its search, locating the individual a few minutes later in the middle of the marsh, unresponsive and suffering from severe hypothermia. Both patients were transported back to the boat launch and treated by Tupper Lake EMS.

Ironically, Marine-1’s first ice rescue took place exactly 5 years to the day SLVFD’s very first airboat, a 2002 Yankee airboat (purchased used from Conesus VFD in 2017) made its first ice rescue February 4, 2017. The older air boat was instrumental in locating and rescuing an individual who went through the ice on a 4-wheeler on Oseetah Lake. Similarly, this search and rescue also took place during a blinding snowstorm.

See the below link for complete details of that 2017 rescue as published in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

Unfortunately, the older 2002 airboat encountered serious mechanical problems during the ice rescue in 2017. Prior to that SLVFD had used a small three person Scatt hovercraft for 30 years for ice rescue and recovery.

Fast forward five years later to 2021, little did we know then that those mechanical problems of the older 2002 airboat, and the retirement of the 30 year old hovercraft would lead to the purchase of a brand new 24’, 640 HP, enclosed 1000 Island Search and Rescue Airboat.

This new airboat was put to the test and ran through the gauntlet Thursday night during its maiden search and rescue in Tupper Lake. This new airboat is specifically designed for search and rescue and hopefully will serve as a tremendous resource for the entire Tri-Lakes and surrounding areas for years to come. The hull is designed to handle the rigors of ice travel as well as strikes from underwater objects. Rated for five foot seas in open water, the new Search & Rescue boat is designed to effortlessly transition from open water to ice and back again. The V-Bow, contour planing hull, which was designed by a marine architect specifically for ice, water, snow and slush allows the new boat to ride with stability on the surface, no matter what that surface may be. This V-bow also allows the boat to travel over deep snow with ease instead of having a plowing effect.

SLVFD could not do this without the tremendous support of our community, the Village Board of Saranac Lake, Towns of Harrietstown, St. Armand and North Elba Town Boards. Thank you all for your continued and never-ending support.

We also want to thank and salute all our brother and sister first responders throughout the North Country who selflessly volunteer their time and risk their lives every day to serve their communities.

Is there a firefighter in you? Please consider joining your local fire department today. New members always welcome and needed.

Note: Below video is Marine 1 inbound to Tupper Lake boat launch with 2 rescued victims aboard. Video credit to Jim "Cookie" Lanthier.

Hyperlinks: Article about 2017 ice rescue


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Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department
100 Broadway
PO Box 509
Saranac Lake NY 12983

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Non-Emergency: 518-891-2333
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