Portsmouth firefighters commended after boat rescue

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PORTSMOUTH — After leaving the scene of a fatal boat accident late Saturday, Portsmouth firefighters soon learned that their night was just beginning.

image001Four people were rescued by firefighters shortly after midnight Sunday after their boat hit a channel marker in East Passage.

The rescue took place shortly after a tragic boat accident in the area northwest of Patience Island in Narragansett Bay shortly before 11 p.m. In that accident, a 57-year-old Warwick man drowned after he had fallen overboard near Patience.

After the body of David Hall was recovered by members of the Warwick Fire Department, Portsmouth Marine 2 began the trip back to Carnegie Abbey Marina.

At midnight, however, Portsmouth received a 911 call reporting “someone screaming for help out on the bay,” according to Deputy Fire Chief Michael O’Brien. At this time Portsmouth Marine 2 was entering the East Passage, between Portsmouth and Prudence, and crew members reported hearing someone in the water screaming for help.

Within a few minutes firefighters were on scene with a vessel that had struck a channel marker, he said. The boat had been carrying two females and two males, all of whom had received injuries from the collision, Deputy O’Brien said.

One of the men had been ejected into the water and was struggling with his injuries when firefighters arrived, he said. “The crew quickly recovered the injured victim from the water, hauling him onto the Portsmouth’s boat,” Deputy O’Brien said.

Two more victims both had head injuries, one with a significant leg fracture. A fourth victim was injured but refused treatment.

“Portsmouth firefighters removed the two victims form the damaged vessel onto the Marine 2. As they were the only agency on scene and in an effort to expedite transport of the injured, Portsmouth firefighters took control of the damaged boat,” said Deputy O’Brien.

The two vessels, firefighters and the four victims made the trip back to Carnegie Abbey Marina. The on-shore incident commander, Capt. Jim Sousa, had staged three ambulances from Portsmouth, Bristol and Tiverton fire departments.

The three injured people were transported in separate ambulances to Rhode Island Hospital with fractures, lacerations and blunt-force trauma.

The damaged vessel was turned over to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.

“I would like to publicly commend Lt. Dan Smith and firefighters Alden Brown, Brian Baker and Andrew Jones for their heroic actions during this emergency,” said Deputy O’Brien. “It is likely that there would have additional fatalities had they not taken the actions they did. These responders were able to locate the victims, start advanced medical treatment, move the patients to shore and even transported the injured to Rhode Island Hospital — all in less than one hour. Their actions truly demonstrate the capabilities of Portsmouth firefighters. The outcome of this incident is a credit to their training, their preparation and their ‘can do’ attitude.

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