By NANETTE LoBIONDO GALLOWAY
LONGPORT – The volunteers at the Longport Volunteer Fire Department had a busy weekend rescuing people on land and sea.
According to Fire Chief Levon “Lefty” Clayton, the all-volunteer fire department had three fire calls, three EMS calls and three requests for Marine 3 assistance on the water.
Two of the fire calls were a result of malfunctioning fire alarms and the third was in response to a smoke detector set off from cooking. The first EMS call was for a person who fell off their bike and sustained a minor injury.
On Saturday, at 12:59 p.m., the department’s ambulance responded to the report of a male and female who were riding their jet ski in the bay near 33rd Avenue who hit a wake and were knocked off the personal watercraft. The male was reported to be unconscious in the water. Kayakers paddling nearby were able to bring the male to a private dock where he regained consciousness.
The U.S. Coast Guard Ocean City, Ocean City Police Department, NJ State Police Marine Unit and Longport Beach Patrol all responded to the scene. The NJ State Police Marine Unit took over the investigation and the Longport Fire Department transported the male to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Atlantic City Campus where he was treated for a non-life threatening chest injury. The female was not injured.
On Friday evening at 5:12 p.m., Marine 3 along with Margate’s Marine 1, the U.S. Coast Guard and Ocean City Fire Department responded to the report of a man jumping off the Ocean City-Longport bridge.
Clayton said the incident was called in by a passing motorist who saw a man jump off the bridge. However, witnesses on the beach said they saw the man get into a boat.
“It is believed that the person climbed into a boat that was waiting for him and quickly left the scene,” Clayton said.
A few hours later at 7:57 p.m., Longport firefighters were called into action after someone called 911 to report a boat stuck on a sandbar near Seaview Harbor Marina. Marine 3 responded along with the U.S. Coast Guard Ocean City. When they arrived, rescuers found the boat floating with the outgoing tide. Another boater navigating the area threw the stranded operator a line and pulled the boat off the sandbar.
Then on Saturday afternoon at 4:55 p.m., Marine 3 responded to the report of a boat sinking in Risley’s Channel. This time, Marine 3 located the boat and rescued the two males on board. The Coast Guard Atlantic City and Ocean City also responded to the scene. Clayton said the males stayed on board Marine 3 until a commercial towing company arrived to tow the sinking boat, which had a faulty cooling hose that caused the boat to start filling up with water. The uninjured males were then transferred to the towing company’s boat and brought to shore.
Marine 3 is a retired 25-foot Coast Guard boat acquired by the borough that has been equipped with new radios and a thermal imaging camera for nighttime rescues.
“It’s proven to be a valuable asset to the boaters in this area,” Clayton said. “We are able to respond quickly to boaters in distress on the water.”
Clayton said the volunteers are pleased to be able to offer the service to grateful boaters with no more compensation than a grateful thank you.
“Thank yous are more valuable than anything,” he said.
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