The telephone number to report any emergency - on or off water - in Dickinson County is 911. All Iowa Great Lakes fire and rescue departments provide an extensive range of emergency services to their jurisdictions.
The Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire and Rescue Department serves the cities of Arnolds Park and Okoboji as well as the surrounding rural area. This combined department provides the primary fire and rescue service on the waters of East and West Lake Okoboji, Lake Minnewashta, and Upper and Lower Gar Lake. These emergency services are provided on the water by utilizing a fireboat, several rescue Personal Water Craft, a rescue airboat for use on ice-covered lakes, and an extensively trained and equipped dive team.
The Milford Fire and Rescue Department serves Milford, Wahpeton, West Okoboji, and the surrounding rural areas. “It’s the water…and a lot more” Equipment includes two pumpers, two tankers, an equipment truck, and two grassfire pickups. Milford also operates the Lakes Area Extraction Unit. The unit serves medical calls in the Milford fire district and serves all of Dickinson County and beyond for accidents.
The Spirit Lake Community Fire Department serves the City of Spirit Lake and surrounding rural areas. The fire department provides fire and water rescue on Big Spirit Lake, East and West Okoboji, Center Lake, and five smaller lakes. The SLCFD provides water rescue through the use of Personal Water Craft and a small rescue boat. The fire department is trained and equipped for ice rescue using a flat bottom boat and ice rescue suits. The department is equipped with four pumpers, two tankers, a 103-foot ladder truck, a water rescue van, a hazmat unit, and an equipment van.
Dickinson County fire and police departments also work together to provide Mutual Aid through a 28E agreement to provide additional help when it is requested.
Lakes Area Fire & Rescue Boat - With approximately 45 miles of lakeshore and thousands of structures located along the shores of East & West Okoboji and the lower chain of lakes, there is a critical need for a fire/rescue boat.
The Lakes Area Fire & Rescue Boat is a Boston Whaler that is specifically designed for firefighting and rescue operations. It is 27 feet long and 10 feet wide. Members of the Arnolds Park – Okoboji Fire & Rescue Department staff the boat. With an unlimited supply of lake water, it will pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute through 3 lines to fire trucks at structure fires.
There is a 36-inch section on the port side that opens like a door 4 inches above water level. Injured victims can be safely & comfortably transported to the lakeshore for medical assistance. The fireboat has the capability of shooting water up to 300 feet. The Lakes Area Fire and Rescue Boat is located between the Highway 71 Bridge and the Bike Trail Trestle Bridge.
Contributions to help fund fire and rescue operations can made to a 501 (c) (3) organization: Lakes Area Fire and Rescue
Lakes Area Ice Rescue Boat - A new all season airboat is now in the hands of area rescue personnel. Arnolds Park/ Okoboji Fire and Rescue Chief Chris Yungbluth and other members of the department have introduced the new Lakes Area Rescue Airboat. Prior to acquiring the new airboat, the rescue team used an outdated 1967 aluminum homemade airboat. According to Yungbluth, the new airboat is far superior. "The new boat has a full cabin on it," says Yungbluth. "We can keep our patients warm while we're transporting them to a location where the ambulance can meet us."
The boat is a state-of-the-art 1000 Island Airboat. The airboat is a fast response rescue vehicle that is designed to safely transport up to six people through the most treacherous winter conditions. The boat can break through thin ice or ride on top of regular ice with great speed and control. The rescue air boat is also equipped with ice brakes, a full medical pack, and Stokes Baskets, the baskets dropped in the water to rescue victims, and stabilization boards that can help scoop a victim directly out of the water while stabilizing their head and neck. "That helps when the victims are unconscious or their hands are too cold to grab on to any ropes," said Yungbluth.
The All-Season Rescue Air Boat will be primarily operated by the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Dive and Rescue Department. The AP/Okoboji Dive and Rescue Department plans to cross train with the Spirit Lake and Milford Fire Departments to ensure that the boat is used by the entire Lakes area.