State police now have a new tool to help with search and rescue missions on water or ice.
Vermont State Police have acquired two 20-foot airboats, the first of their kind to be owned by state police.
The airboats were funded entirely through federal grants, costing $75,000 each. Police say in instances where they have to reach someone in need, the boats will provide a more efficient response.
“It can go on ice, snow, water, any terrain essentially,” said Capt. Michael Manley of the Vermont State Police. “With this boat, we can load equipment on here and drive right to the site.”
The boats will be stored at the Williston barracks, but will be used statewide.
“If we had someone go through the ice, the scuba team would have to go out usually on foot with special suits,” Manley said. “It can be dangerous, they can fall through getting to spots like that.”
The weight of the boat can break up the ice allowing police to use sonar technology and reduce search times. The boats are powered by a 556 horsepower fan.
“You hope you don’t need to use it,” said Sgt. Trevor Carbo. “But if you do, you’re sure glad you had it.”
State police trained in Texas where the boats were made. They will also train with agencies in Maine, New York and New Hampshire, which use similar equipment.