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WILDWOOD - Coast Guard medevaced a boater who sustained an injury to his finger while attempting to fix a boat motor near Wildwood Oct. 16. 

Coast Guard Station Cape May, Air Station Atlantic City and New Jersey State Police (NJSP) responded to a call that stated one man's finger was injured while working on a motor, while another passenger became stuck in mud while attempting to set a crab pot.

An MH-65 Dolphin Rescue Helicopter crew from Air Station Atlantic City arrived on scene and hoisted the injured man to local emergency medical services, while NJSP rescued the man stuck in the mud and towed the disabled vessel to a local marina.

"This case illustrates the importance of partner agencies like the New Jersey State Police," stated Fern Serrano, Operational Unit Controller at Sector Delaware Bay, in a release. "Working with partner agencies allows us to approach a situation from different angles, and affect a quick and timely rescue."

In a subsequent release from North Wildwood Fire Department (NWFD):

Marine assets from (NWFD) were requested to assist the City of Wildwood Fire Department (WFD) with a water rescue incident at approximately 4:10 p.m. Oct. 16. 

WFD Capt. Ernie Troiano advised NWFD Capt. Michael Blizzard that the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Station Cape May had contacted the City of Wildwood requesting assistance retrieving a fisherman that had exited his boat and was now stuck up to his waist in mud. The City of North Wildwood Police Communications dispatched a marine unit assignment at the request of Capt. Blizzard.  

NWFD Chief Dominic McClain responded to the North Wildwood Public Safety Dock at 4th and the bay to coordinate NWFD’s response. Chief McClain contacted USCG assets operating at this incident and ascertained that they were on scene but, due to the low tide, required a flat-bottom boat and trained personnel to retrieve the victim from the mud. 

USCG assets advised that the victim was stuck in the mud immediately adjacent to Phillip Shields Island.

Phillips Shields Island is a land mass in the Richardson Sound, or “back bay,” approximately two-thirds of a mile northwest of W. Burke Avenue and the street end.  

Chief McClain assigned personnel from North Wildwood Volunteer Fire Company #1 to respond in Marine 2-1, a flat-bottom Carolina Skiff with minimal draft.  Chief McClain then assigned two personnel from the NWFD Municipal Division to respond to W. Burke and the street end with Squad-2, the department’s water rescue vehicle. Chief McClain responded to the same location and participated in a unified command system with other on-scene agencies. 

NWFD Municipal Division Firefighters Bradley Ladislaw and Sam Springsteen were outfitted in newly acquired dry suits, personal flotation devices, and helmets upon the arrival of Marine 2-1 in Wildwood.

Through past training and experience, rescuers were aware of the challenges posed by the intense pressure and suction the mud places against individuals who have become submerged. Rescuers were also aware of the need to avoid becoming submerged in the mud themselves.

As such, rescuers boarded the Marine 2-1 with hand tools to help disturb the mud surrounding the victim and additional long boards, a rescue paddle board, and an ice rescue sled from WFD to help displace the weight of the victim and rescuers over the mud. 

Upon arriving in the area, NWFD personnel received a face-to-face briefing from the rescue swimmer deployed from the USCG air asset operating on scene.  The USCG rescue swimmer was located on the victim’s boat and advised that a subject on the boat required immediate transport to and assistance onto the adjacent island to receive aero-medical evacuation for an unrelated traumatic injury. Both the rescue swimmer and victim boarded Marine 2-1 and were assisted onto Phillip Shields Island to await hoist operations and medevac to a trauma center. 

NWFD units then immediately made contact with the submerged victim. It was determined that the victim was wearing chest waders and was only beginning to experience complaints related to prolonged environmental exposure.

NWFD personnel utilized a rescue paddle board to displace their weight while beginning to dig the mud away from the victim’s legs. The victim was freed within 15 minutes and assisted onto Marine 2-1 to be transported to W. Burke Avenue. New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau towed the victim’s vessel to an adjacent dock and WFD provided medical evaluation of the victim. 

The NWFD wishes to acknowledge the cooperation and coordination of local, state, and federal agencies on scene that resulted in the successful mitigation of this incident.

Operating agencies included WFD, NWFD, New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau - North Wildwood Station, USCG - Small Boat Station Cape May, USCG - Air Station Atlantic City.

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