In Yarmouth Rescue, New Marine Resource Proves Critical to Local Search Teams

A man was rescued from this overturned boat off the coast of Yarmouth early Tuesday morning.

YARMOUTH – Local officials say a new resource available to rescue personnel on Cape Cod helped save a man’s life last week.

The Marine Task Force is a collaboration between the Coast Guard and local police, fire, and harbormaster departments. It pools the marine resources of local departments together to improve their ability to respond to water rescues.

That partnership proved critical when more than a half dozen agencies teamed up to find and save a man who had spent more than 12 hours in the elements when his boat overturned in Bass River. He was eventually found in Nantucket sound.

“All these groups came together over the last two years and formed this mutual aid using marine resources. It’s just worked. It’s worked really well,” said Yarmouth Deputy Fire Chief Jon Sawyer.

“The Cape has been fantastic over the years with our mutual aid. We really set the standard for New England if not most of the country,” Sawyer said. “But the one thing we had lacked was our marine resources. A lot of the departments had boats, but unless you were aware of it, you really didn’t know what departments had a boat that could help you.”

Sawyer said the effort was spearheaded by Barnstable Fire Deputy Chief Peter Burke, who worked with the Coast Guard stations in Provincetown, Chatham, and the Cape Cod Canal and fire and harbormaster departments across the Cape to establish the new program.

In the event a water rescue is needed, the Coast Guard can activate a Marine Task Force, launching the appropriate vessels from local agencies.

In Tuesday’s rescue, the Coast Guard activated boats from the Yarmouth, Dennis, and Hyannis fire departments and the Harwich Harbormaster’s office while launching their own larger boat and a helicopter team. Those local boats were able to search shallow parts of the Bass River and areas of the Nantucket Sound coastline where the larger Coast Guard boat couldn’t respond.

After a three hour search, the missing boater was rescued.

“He’s a very lucky man, very lucky to believe alive,” said Sawyer. “I think a few more hours would’ve made the difference between life and death in this situation.”

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