Morgan County upgrades marine response on Tennessee River

Rescue squad upgrades

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - 2019 was one of Alabama’s deadliest years on the water.

In response, Morgan County focused on upgrading its Marine Response and that effort has definitely paid off in 2020.

Mike Swafford from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says in the past eight months, they’ve responded to numerous vessels in distress and even helped search for criminal evidence on the river.

They are also at major fishing events to monitor everyone’s safety.

Swafford says last week his team was able to tow a boat out of the way of a barge. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time, which is the ultimate goal of upgrading marine response.

Swafford says the rescue squad is the safety net on the river and are the quickest ones to respond to an incident.

“What we were concerned for going into 2020 was just what happened in 2019...The amount of deaths that Alabama saw,” Swafford said. “But then we you add in the COVID-19 pandemic, it just pushed more people to the waterways and anytime you have more people with more vessels, that’s where problems start to get created. And thankfully, between us, the marine police, Decatur police department and the rescue squad… We have been out here enough where we haven’t really had to deal with any of those incidents.”

Swafford says many folks don’t realize the same things that happen on land, happen on the river. For example, domestic violence and physical altercations are common emergencies.

Swafford’s final message is to have fun but be cautious and aware.

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