Born out of necessity, the district's water rescue program was designed to provide quick response to water emergencies. Some local agencies provide marine patrols in the summer months but during the rest of the year, the US Coast Guard station in Tahoe City is the only agency equipped to handle on-the-water emergencies. Our rescue boat is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is capable of operating in rough water and the dark of night with the use of the same night vision equipment used by military helicopter pilots. We are the only agency on the east shore of Lake Tahoe capable of operating in all conditions.
The district purchased their first rescue craft in the early 80’s allowing for quick respone to emergencies on the east shore. Two boats later, the district now responds to emergencies with Marine 24, a 19 foot, rigid hull inflatable watercraft with EMS, rescue and fire fighting capabilities.
Marine 24 is set up for quick deployment and can engage in search operations, rescue operations, and even firefighting with the ability to flow up to 1000 gallons of water each minute to fight a variety of fire situations. It draws water directly from the lake and can serve in both attack and water supply roles. Each year Marine 24 responds to dozens of requests ranging from boating accidents to calls for assistance.
Fire District personnel are trained and equipped for a variety of water operations, including rapid extrication of victims from the water. Special dry suits allow rescuers to operate in all weather conditions. Water temperatures in Lake Tahoe can drop as low as 40 degrees in the winter which makes rapid response to emergencies essential.
Along with Marine 24, Tahoe Douglas utilizes two Honda Aquatrax personal watercraft to assist with search and rescue operations. These craft are faster and more maneuverable than the rigid hull inflatable boat and can cover a great deal of area quickly during search and rescue operations. In the event of a hazardous materials spill, the personal watercraft can be used to move a variety of equipment to assist in the containment of certain products. There is also a small complement of employees who have trained as rescue divers.