ORANGE COUNTY — When an elderly man had trouble with his boat not starting while fishing last week in 100-degree weather, he found help from law enforcement.

Members of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit responded quickly, bringing water and basic first aid with them and were able to tow the man to shore.

When a woman with a mental health problem allegedly jumped from the Rainbow Bridge, the Marine Unit was there to help other response agencies.

And when a man was thrown from his boat in April after hitting a bridge pylon at Little Cypress Bayou, the marine unit was there too.

The OCSO Marine Unit’s 25ft Defender-class boat, left, and the 22ft Skeeter center console boat. (Courtesy picture)

Who are they and what do they do?

The OCSO marine unit consists of four Coast Guard licensed boat captains along with other OCSO deputies who work together on calls.

The Marine Unit is not a full-time division, although it responds to a variety of calls.

Captain Joey Jacobs, a chartered captain, said the unit has four boats: a 25ft Defender class with twin 250hp engines with radar and side-scan imaging, a 22ft Skeeter center console boat which can handle shallower waters and can be operated by a captain, a small aluminum craft boat that can be used for small bodies of water, such as ponds, and an airboat.

“This time of year we have a lot of stranded boaters,” Jacobs said. “We also respond to search, rescue and recovery. We carry out river patrols and offer assistance around the port of Orange and intervene in the event of river accidents.

The OCSO Defender class boat. (Courtesy picture)

They also have homeland security type duties, and everything is logged and noted from fuel logs, vessel identification and more.

The marine unit covers a lot of territory and can essentially leave the boathouse in Orange and respond up to the salt water barrier on the Neches River. Depending on the time of day and traffic, they may choose to bring the responding boat in via a trailer.

The maritime unit has strong working relationships with other agencies, Jacobs said. They include the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit, the United States Coast Guard, and Calcasieu Parish authorities.

Sheriff Jimmy Lane Mooney said the Marine unit works hand-in-hand with other agencies and offers mutual aid to neighboring Louisiana, but there is a purpose for the division.

“The primary purpose of the marine unit is to save lives on the waterway,” Mooney said.