New East Jefferson rescue boat's first assignment: round up drifting inner-tubers
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With the new Marine 1-6 docked nearby, crews examine the inner tubes on which two children and their mom were taken to the middle of Port Townsend Bay, forcing their rescue with the new Port Angeles-made boat. —East Jefferson Fire-Rescue photo

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — East Jefferson Fire-Rescue's brand new boat had its first rescue when its crew pulled an inner-tubing family out of a strong current after they were swept away from the beach at Fort Worden State Park.

A 8-year-old boy and his 15-year-old sister visiting from Olympia were paddling in inner tubes near the Port Townsend Marine Science Center on Saturday afternoon when they were caught in the current that pulled them about halfway into Port Townsend Bay, said Assistant Chief Brian Tracer of East Jefferson Fire-Rescue.

Their mother, who had paddled out on a third inner tube to help her children, also was caught in the current, Tracer said.

None of them wore life jackets, he said.

The names of the family members were not provided by fire officials.

Two paddleboard riders and the kayak concierge at Fort Worden State Park reached the family first, helping to keep them from drifting further from the beach until rescuers arrived.

“The saving grace here is the good samaritans who are often already out on the water,” Tracer said.

At 3:08 p.m., the East Jefferson rescue boat, Marine 1-6, with a crew of three was dispatched from Point Hudson Marina, rendezvoused with the small group and took the family aboard.

“Our biggest concern was hypothermia,” Tracer said.

Despite the warm day, the water in the bay remains cold and hypothermia is a major risk, he said.

The family was warmed up, medically evaluated and released when they reached shore.

The new rescue boat, which was delivered in June, was built by Lee Shore Boats of Port Angeles at a total cost of about $455,000.

It has the full capability of a fire engine, and is equipped with an aid car medical suite and a patient treatment area, Tracer said.

East Jefferson on Saturday was also assisted by Fort Worden State Park rangers, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office marine vessel, Port Townsend police and a fire department paramedic ambulance.

Tracer added that swimmers and others who use the water off the Port Townsend area beaches to be aware of the strong currents just offshore.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 10. 2014 8:24PM
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