What are U.S. Coast Guard rescues costing taxpayers? - KCTV5

What are U.S. Coast Guard rescues costing taxpayers?

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BAY COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Snow is melting and temperatures across Mid-Michigan are above freezing - still some are venturing out the Saginaw Bay. The coast guard has rescued more than a dozen people from the not so frozen water in the last few days.

So, are taxpayers footing the bill for the persistent ice fishermen and snowmobilers? According to petty officer Brian McInnis, the answer is, no.

"We are humanitarian military service. We are part of the military, we go out and we save lives. There's no charge at all to the public."

Based in Essexville, the coast guard is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Officers are prepared to put their lives on the line to keep area waters secure - because they say issuing warnings isn't enough.

"Even if it's open water people will still go out and fish. People are going to do what they want to do," said McInnis.

For those willing to take the risk of venturing out on the bay or river, coast guard officials say there are a few items they should take with them in case something goes wrong.

"A pair of screw drivers. That way of they do fall in its kind of a self help measure they can try to get themselves out of the ice," suggested McInnis.

He also advised people to bring along a handheld GPS, so crews can find and rescue those in danger as quickly as possible.

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