Drone will improve response times

To the Journal editor:

On a warm day in June 2016, Justin Schroepfer spotted two women struggling in a rip current just off of Little Presque Isle beach in Marquette and, bravely, entered the water in an attempt to help.

Locals were able to rescue one of the women, but, sadly, Justin and the other swimmer, Kaylilyn Tansey, did not make it.

Within days, local organizations responded by coming together and installing safety stations with basic rescue equipment and increased signage around Little Presque Isle Park.

Later, Marquette Township requested funds from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to obtain and train personnel on the implementation of an EMILY (EMergency Integrated life-saving LanYard) for use at the park.

With 80 pounds of buoyancy and the capability to reach up to 22 mph on the water, EMILY is a remotely operated surface rescue drone designed to quickly provide floatation to struggling swimmers in any weather or surf scenario.

The families of Justin Schroepfer and his fiance, Suzy Solin, reached out to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at Little Presque Isle to see how they could help.

They teamed up with the Great Lakes Unmanned Systems Center (the EMILY distributor in the Great Lakes) and a local manufacturer to design and install a secure, weather-proof, 24-hour access station for the EMILY at the park.

The EMILY station is attached to an existing lifesaving station. Any single EMS, Ranger, Law Enforcement Officer or other first responder who has been trained, can by-pass security at the station and quickly deploy floatation up to 300 meters out.

With construction and installation of the EMILY station complete, Justin’s family would like to invite members of the public to take part in a brief dedication ceremony and plaque unveiling at Little Presque Isle Park in Marquette on May 21 at 1 p.m. They would also like to take the time to thank the communities, organizations and individuals who responded on the day of the tragedy and have taken steps to help decrease the likelihood of it happening again.

The Great Lakes Unmanned Systems Center will provide a technical demonstration of the EMILY near the emplacement, immediately following the dedication ceremony.

First responders of any service are encouraged to participate and evaluate the implementation of EMILY on the Great Lakes and community members are welcome to observe.

Andrew Chosa