Ocean County, NJ Sheriff’s Office introduces new SHERP-ATV for water related emergency rescues
The Ocean County Sheriff's Office has unveiled a new special kind of ATV called a SHERP that will help with land and water rescues in the community.
Ocean County Sheriff Mike Mastronardy says he got the idea of bringing this type of vehicle to Ocean County after being the victim of a Hurricane in North Carolina.
"The Sheriff's Office had one down there and I contacted the Sheriff who put me in touch with the vendor and two years later, that's what we have," Sheriff Mastronardy, who also oversees the Ocean County Office of Emergency Management, tells Townsquare Media News.
Sheriff Mastronardy explains that this SHERP vehicle will have a few types of uses in Ocean County.
"It can bring supplies to people in the event of a Hurricane -- if we have to get water to people or supplies, also if we have to do water rescues," Mastronardy said. "It's also utilized for ice rescues. If you remember, a couple years back we had a motor vehicle go through in the ice in Toms River."
If a vehicle went through the ice like it did in Toms River or in a situation similar to that one, this SHERP vehicle would be called in to help.
"We would just activate this vehicle and deploy right away and get it out there and see what we have," Mastronardy said. "It'll go through the ice, and the water -- it's a very useful tool for emergency management."
This SHERP vehicle moves at a speed of 25-miles per hour on land and 3.7 mph in the water and is strong enough with tires over five-feet tall, to drive over sand, through brush, and into and out of the water such as the Toms River and the Barnegat Bay as well as in marshes, mud, ice, and other terrains.
"It's a very aggressive rescue tool that can go up inclines as well as go through any depth of water or go through ice if we have freeze-over and it falls through the ice. It'll keep going through the water, so if somebody falls through or if their vehicle (does), we'll be able to get it in Ocean County," Mastronardy said.
In the event of a rescue where someone falls in or their vehicle does and they need rescuing, the SHERP vehicle would enter into the body of water, and then members of the Ocean County Sheriff's Office/OEM would pop open the windows to the SHERP/ATV and help people inside the vehicle.
"There's mechanisms for them to make water rescues from the vehicle," Mastronardy said.
To his understanding, Sheriff Mastronardy said that this new SHERP/ATV vehicle that will be utilized is the first of its kind in the state, making the Ocean County Sheriff's Office/OEM the first law enforcement agency in New Jersey to deploy such a rescue vehicle.
"I hope it helps make the residents feel safer, that's the ultimate goal, but for us it's good that the Commissioners have backed us so that we can get the resources we need to make sure the residents are safe in Ocean County," Mastronardy said.
He also gives thanks to the Ocean County Board of Commissioners for using capital funding to help make this vision a reality.
"We're very excited that the County Commissioners saw, after we demonstrated the need for it, that they thought it was important enough to put the capital funds together so that we have this rescue opportunity in Ocean County for the residents to enhance their public safety," Mastronardy said.
Ocean County Commissioner Gary Quinn, the liaison to the Ocean County Sheriff's Office, gives credit to Sheriff Mastronardy for being a visionary and working to make sure the OCSO/OEM has what it needs to help residents in all kinds of situations.
"When Sheriff Mastronardy joined the county as our Sheriff, he had different insights as to what the future was going to be in the county itself," Quinn tells Townsquare Media News. "In going through some of the storms we've gone through like Superstorm Sandy, the Sheriff recognized the fact that there's a need for a piece of equipment like this to try and be able to take and make sure that we're going to keep the residents safe and be able to evacuate residents in any conditions that exist, which a lot of times are very severe in the county."
With climate change and other weather-related incidents that have happened in recent years, Quinn feels strongly this is an important piece of equipment to have in Ocean County.
"The Sheriff has seen that there's been a lot of changes in the last 15-20 years when it comes to weather, when it comes to climate, the rising of the tides -- there's a lot of issues that we're dealing with in the county because we are such a waterfront community and he's looking at this as something that's really going to be beneficial to the residents of this county," Quinn said.