A NEW flat-bottomed boat specially adapted by members of a South Lakes search and rescue team has been unveiled.
The re-developed American air boat was showcased by Flookburgh-based Bay Search and Rescue team on the River Tees to UK tactical flood advisers.
Paul Calland, Bay Search and Rescue deputy station officer, said: “It’s a big flat-bottomed hull with an aeroplane propeller, the kind of thing you see on TV in CSI Miami when they’re out on the marshes.”
Mr Calland added that he believed it was the only one of its kind being used in the country for rescues.
Team members have carried out all the redevelopment work to the second-hand boat themselves, which will replace a tractor vehicle used now.
Originally a nine-seater three-tier ‘tourist bus’ used in the United States, they have replaced the old metal frame with aluminium, added a Global Positioning System and made it into a safer working environment.
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Bay Search and Rescue Team said it had been looking at all sorts of boats and it had taken them ten years to reach this point.
“The prime reason for doing this is that we make the rescues as safe as possible, having the safest tools and the safest vehicles in the job,” added Mr Calland.
He also said the response from national rescue workers at the showcasing event at the Tees Barrage was very positive, with people agreeing it would have been ‘ideal’ for floods such as those at the recent Somerset Levels.
The boat can travel on most damp surfaces, including grass and snow, without catching on objects on the ground such as barbed wire in fields.
Although it is not yet fully operational, it is being trialled and used in demonstrations.