Local volunteer fire departments are one of the most valuable assets that our community has.

On Saturday night when Erie County had three water rescue calls all within an hour, we saw just how valuable those volunteers are when keeping our family and friends safe.

It was literally one call after the other. By the time the third call came in, resources were starting to get stretched pretty thin.

Three water rescue calls came in back to back on Saturday night in Erie County. These calls were just minutes apart.

The first call came in at 7:05 p.m. for a boat in distress in Millcreek. The second call was in Harborcreek for a jet skier in distress which came in at 7:39 p.m.

A third call came in 10 minutes later for yet another water rescue. That call turned out to be another witness calling in the jet ski in distress.

“A lot of these things happen simultaneously as the call is being interrogated. We launched our 25 foot safe boat from here in North East while the Coast Guard and West Lake got set up from the west,” said Chris Skrekla, Lieutenant at Fuller Hose Company in North East.

All of these water rescues fall on the shoulders of our local volunteer fire fighters and the coast guard.

Fuller Hose Company in North East, West Lake, and Lake Shore are the only volunteer fire departments that have water rescue resources.

“Saturday was a good outcome all the way around because of the training, because of being prepared and because of Erie Gives Day coming, because of the generosity from the community which is so appreciated from the volunteer fire service,” said Skrekla.

The coast guard said that being able to utilize resources that local fire departments have for water rescues is a huge asset to the Erie community.

“So really we come together. The fire department rope rescue has saved people several times when our boats can’t get close to rocks. Then of course we all come together to take advantage of our expertise and assets and complete the mission at hand,” said Justin Taylor, Petty Officer First Class, U.S. Coast Guard Erie.

Erie Gives Day is on August 9 and since all three volunteer fire departments water rescue teams serve the entire region, they ask that you consider donating to them because the equipment needed for these rescues is not cheap to purchase or maintain.

“A lot of that funding we get on Erie Gives Day and fundraisers that each department conducts are to help offset the cost of day to day operations,” said Skrekla.

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