STANDISH, Maine — Thanks to the kindness of a man from Casco, a Maine Game Warden now carries a device on his snowmobile that could help save someone's life, including his own.
It's called a Nebulus. It weighs 17 pounds and is no bigger than a kid's backpack, but if you find yourself in open water, this small piece of equipment could make all the difference.
Pete Herring is a Maine Game Warden who's been patrolling Sebago Lake for more than a decade.
Last week, John Curtis, a man from Casco, donated the life-saving gift to Warden Herring. While snowmobiling with his family, Curtis has had a couple of close calls with open water, including one frightening experience on Sebago Lake.
Curtis wanted to provide the Maine Warden Service with an additional tool to help survive an unexpected fall through the ice -- and to help protect other people, too.
"As a game warden, you are routinely out on swift water, thin ice," said Warden Herring.
It can be dangerous, even for the most experienced boaters and snowmobilers.
"If I go through, I'm down, and what I have to rely on is just basic ice pics, and hopefully I can get myself out of the water," Herring said.
Now, thanks to Curtis, Herring has a Nebulus.
"It's definitely a game changer for me in ice water rescues, absolutely." Herring said.
The Nebulus is a compact, mobile, inflatable raft that weighs only 17 pounds.
Herring, pointing to the device, said, "You grab that handle and pull. There are two CO-2 canisters inside that rapidly inflate."
Once deployed, it's 6 feet long, 5 feet wide and will support 1,000 pounds of weight.
"Not only does this hold me up and other occupants -- it holds the snow machine under us, so recovery of vehicle is that much quicker," said Herring.
Herring is grateful for this piece of equipment that gives him peace of mind. "God forbid catastrophe happens -- it's another piece of equipment I have".
At a time when every second counts.
"If you're treading water in temperatures this cold, the likelihood of this being a rescue versus a recovery is slim."
Herring says this new tool will help to give Herring and other snowmobilers a fighting chance.
The Nebulus costs $600. It can be reused multiple times after being refitted and repacked at the company's shop in Minnesota.
Since 2006, the device has saved more than 300 people in the U.S. and Canada.