MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. — East of Blytheville, Ark., the Mississippi River rolls peacefully along, but Mike Godsey with the Blytheville Emergency Squad warns “Old Man River” occasionally flexes his muscles.
“You got to respect that river. If you don’t, it will hurt you and you can get in trouble real quick. As people do every year out there,” he said.
That was the case Sunday night when three fishermen got stranded on a sand bar on the Tennessee side of the river.
“They called in on a cellphone. called in and said they were in distress. The motor didn’t work,” said Godsey.
Emergency Squad volunteers gathered their equipment and headed out.
But they, along with Mississippi County Deputies, had to drive all the way to Sans Souci Landing, which is south of Osceola, to launch their boats. Then crews had to go back up the river to find the stranded boaters.
Godsey said the travel time could have been drastically cut if the boat ramp at Barfield Landing was in decent shape. It’s only about ten miles from the Blytheville squad’s headquarters.
Godsey said an aerial picture shows the ramp looks more like a beach.
“This is the boat ramp at Barfield Landing. And as you can see, it’s not a ramp,” said Godsey.
He said Mississippi County leaders should fix the ramp and save volunteers valuable time.
“Because they won’t put a good ramp in here for us. Even though they have money appropriated, everything. They’re kind of slow about getting us a ramp in,” said Godsey.
The Emergency Squad depends on donations. The Kinder Morgan Company recently donated six thermal suits to the squad after volunteers spent days searching for two barge workers killed back in April.
Godsey said the suits will help volunteers stay warm while they perform a job that’s very important.
“We ask the to do it without any pay, cause we’re all volunteers. So we like to get the best equipment we can for them for them,” said Godsey.
None of the three fishermen rescued Sunday night were injured.