Lifesaving devices donated by KBIC

BARAGA – Keweenaw Bay Indian Community donated two life-saving devices – available from one of its corporations – to aid trained first responders in saving Lake Superior swimmers struggling to avoid drowning.

Five people have lost their lives this year in Lake Superior alone, including 22-year old Kaylilyn Tansey and 24-year-old Justin Schroepfer who drowned June 11 in Marquette County.

Moved by the deaths, KBIC President Chris Swartz wanted to help by giving battery-operated life-saving lanyards to not only Marquette Fire Department, but also Michigan Department of Natural Resources for use at Little Presque Isle, where the young people were thought to have drowned due to dangerous rip currents common in the area – while helpless park rangers watched, said Jeffery Loman who demonstrated Marquette Fire Department’s unit during a break of the tribal council meeting Thursday at the Ojibwa Casino in Baraga.

Manufactured by Hydronalix, and marketed by the tribe’s Aanikoosing, Inc., Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyards (EMILYs) cost approximately $11,000, depending on shipping and training expenses.

Marquette-area first responders are scheduled for training Oct. 2.

Once trained, a first responder will be able to use a hand-held control to direct the robotic lanyard toward struggling swimmers in a very short time.

“It should take about a minute,” Loman said.

Along with the tribe’s concerns, Loman worries about a potential influx of unsuspecting swimmers heading out to Little Presque Isle seeking adventure.

“Kids want to swim out to the island to jump off cliffs they’ve seen on Facebook,” he said. “We want to save lives.

“We are going to distribute them as aggressively as we can across the Great Lakes,” Loman said, adding 514 people have drowned in the Great Lakes since 2010, including 76 so far this year alone.

A demonstration of how to use the lanyard can be viewed at hydronalix.com/emily.

For more information about the lanyards or Aanikoosing, Inc., contact Andrew Chosa at 517-256-9149 or Loman at 907-720-8680.