Accessing Our Challenging Area: Brice Prairie is an elevated sand terrace surrounded on all sides by water and marsh. Much of the water is shallow and heavily vegetated. Over the years we have acquired the specialized craft needed to reliably access the surrounding waters and marsh for medical and rescue calls. Our members have the local knowledge needed to navigate these areas, including the labyrinth of backwater channels that lead to the Mississippi River main channel and upstream through the Black River’s delta. We train frequently in these challenging areas.
Onboard equipment: In addition to our standard medical supplies, our boats carry water rescue gear (rope throw bags, throw-able flotation, reach poles, water rescue/immersion suits), extra PFD’s, spotlights, blankets, tarps & ponchos, maps, pushpoles, folding floating backboards, and fire extinguishers. Depending on the type of incident, additional equipment can be utilized, including oxygen, additional backboards, body retrieval drag hooks and other needed supplies the incident calls for.
Boat 1 is a custom-built 22-foot Kann welded aluminum rescue boat, powered by a 90hp Honda outboard mounted on a vertical jack lift to access shallow-water areas. Below the sealed sole (floor) is 4″ of foam, which along with additional flotation in the bow and stern step extensions would allow the boat to function fully flooded. Boat 1 was designed to handle the open-water conditions of Lake Onalaska or the main Mississippi River in rough weather, as well as provide reasonable shallow-water access.
Boat 1 is equipped with a removable “dive door” on the forward port side to facilitate easy recovery of persons in the water (click image for animated demonstration). The boat was designed to have 8 feet of unencumbered deck space for patient care, so that onboard CPR can be provided. Boat 1 was featured in the January-February 2021 issue of Big River Magazine.
Boat 2 is a 19-foot PolarCraft flat bottom with 35hp Go-Devil Motor.
The boat’s “surface drive” motor allow access to areas inaccessible to most outboard-powered craft (due to weeds, shallow water, etc.). This is our backwater workhorse boat, which can carry up to 8 persons, but is light enough to slide over logs and beaver dams.
Our “RDC” (Rapid Deployment Craft) is primarily an ice-rescue tool, but we’ve outfitted it with a motor mount and a 5 hp air-cooled Briggs and Stratton outboard. The inflatable RDC does not need a boat ramp, which allows us to launch from any shoreline, particularly useful to cover the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service marked canoe trail leading from Lytles Lake Onalaska.