LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Here in Southwest Florida, we're surrounded by a lot of water, and Lee County Sheriff's Office Marine Units train weekly to be prepared for anything that happens on the water.
"We train for anything that comes our way," said Sheriff Carmine Marceno. "It’s not like you’re in a vehicle where we can get to you right away."
Although the water is beautiful, it can also be dangerous. This is why the Lee County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit constantly keeps an eye out to be prepared and ready to jump into action when something takes a turn.
The LCSO Marine Unit trains for all types of circumstances and in all types of weather conditions.
"The water presents a different dynamic and sometimes those response times are critical when it comes to life," Marceno said.
Crews train for high-speed pick-ups where they can swoop you up onto the boat, or other types of training, where crews throw out a rescue line when water is too rough.
Crews also use equipment called a stokes litter - which is equipment that is used for anything involving injuries and needing to get out of the water.
Then there's MERT - the Marine Emergency Response Team. The Sheriff's Office says MERT as a whole responds to roughly 300 emergency calls a year.
On top of rescues and recoveries, the group patrols to check on proper life jackets and watches out for speeds. The marine unit also watches out for marine life by protecting manatees and dolphins.
"Lee County is over 1,200 miles of land and sea and most of it is waterways, barrier islands," said Marceno. "We are one of the top three when it comes to the grid of the busiest in boating registered boaters."
Lieutenant Chris Nyce says the Marine Unit has 14 vessels from their smaller 13-foot rescue inflatables up to their triple engine boats, which are all necessary to work for all different kinds of water from canals and ponds to the gulf.