WATCO preparing to create water rescue team

Published 9:27 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2017

WATCO officials are making preparations for a water rescue team for the company at the Port of Vicksburg as part of its plan to improve safety for its employees, Warren County Port Commissioners learned Monday.

WATCO terminal manager Chris Maxwell told commissioners the company is developing plans to build a boat ramp and access road to the Yazoo Diversion Canal and has bought a boat to help response times in the event of an accident.

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WATCO has the contract to manage the Port of Vicksburg for the county.

Maxwell said Tuesday WATCO has never had an accident at the port.

“We’ve been very fortunate here, and we are extremely safety conscious and we try to minimize all risks of that kind of an accident happening. However, it has happened at other places across the country,” he added.

“The addition of this is in the event of a man overboard or injury, or somebody gets knocked out and can’t fend for themselves and in the water, we can get to them very quickly,” Maxwell said. “We don’t have any way now to do that.”

He said the goal will be for rescuers to reach an injured or unconscious person within four minutes.

Maxwell said the launch and ramp would be port property if WATCO leaves.

He said the team would be primarily for WATCO, “But if we were to get a call from a neighbor, we would certainly go help.”

Port Director Pablo Diaz said after the meeting WATCO is looking at a site on the south side of the terminal WATCO leases from the port.

“They’re looking into the permitting necessary to see if that site would work, and then we would have to look at the scope of work and make sure engineering-wise it’s doable,” Diaz said.

Once the launch and access road are built and the boat delivered, Maxwell said company employees will be sent for training and certification in water rescue.

“We’re trying to enhance our ability in the event somebody was to get injured or fall in the water or knocked in the water and not be able to swim, for whatever reason,” Maxwell said. “We need a way to get to him to rescue them.”

“It’s something that currently doesn’t exist and we’re creating,” he said. “The purpose of the investment is to be able to rescue one of our team members if they were to get hurt or knocked into the water and we needed to get to them.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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