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Racine County invests in rescue technology to prevent drownings

Posted at 10:20 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 23:20:19-04

RACINE, Wis. — Lake Michigan is still too cold for the average swimmer.

But come late June, the water will be warm enough, and Racine County has bought some new equipment to try and keep everyone safe.

"Our county came together and said we're not going to have another summer like this. We're going to be as proactive as possible to solve this and mitigate as much as we humanly possibly can (to prevent) drownings in the future," said County Executive Johnathan Delagrave.

Last year, five people drowned off the coast of Racine County.

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, 47 people in all drowned in Lake Michigan.

They bought a tool that can do things human lifeguards are incapable, like moving across the water at 23 mph.

The EMILYs — Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard — can be deployed in dangerous waters and reach swimmers in peril much faster than human lifeguards.

The remote controlled boat, essentially, can reach a victim who can then hold on until a rescue swimmer or patrol boat reaches them.

"If you want a healthy county, and you want to have healthy recreation, and this technology is available, I think it's important to invest in the safety of our country," said Delagrave.

Racine County bought four EMILYs at about $9,000 a unit. They also bought drones than can drop buoys into the water for victims to grab.

In all, the county spent about $150,000 on new rescue tech, including cameras and a system that alerts swimmers to water conditions.

The county will train sheriff's office personnel and lifeguards to drive the EMILYs and fly the drones.

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