SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Stopping deaths on local waterways is the goal of current legislation being discussed by the Shreveport City Council.
An effort is underway to allocate funding to allow the Shreveport Fire Department to purchase a dive boat for rescues. It is something Shreveport Fire Chief Clarence Reese said is greatly needed.
“Right now we have some inflatable boats but it is not safe to dive off of. Safe for a quick rescue but not safe to dive off of,” Reese said.
Even though great bodies of water surround Shreveport, when a rescue situation arises, Reese told the council that he does not have the necessary equipment his team needs.
He is asking the city council for funds to purchase a dive boat. The fire department has to rely on vessels from the Shreveport Police Department and Caddo Sheriff’s Office. But this limits response time, and calls for water rescues are increasing.
“We’re seeing an increase in calls of suicide. Especially around the train tracks and Texas Street,” Reese said.
He referred to two rescue calls last year. One included a child’s death when a mother threw her two children off the Cross Lake bridge.
“We ended up using citizen’s boats in both of those incidents to make that rescue,” Reese said.
He also cited the fortunate incident in March when a man went overboard on Cross Lake and was quickly rescued because he wore a life vest.
Reese said he has been working to find funding but will need the city’s help.
“We’re about a year behind in getting a boat, and if we continue to wait, we’ll be even further behind,” Reese said.
District A Councilwoman, Tabatha Taylor, sponsored an ordinance to use $110,000 from the General Fund to give to aid the fire department in purchasing a dive boat.
This measure will not be adopted until April 11; fellow council members support the proposed ordinance.