BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) – From the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta to Orange Beach, they’re on the water this weekend in full force.

“As we ride around we’re looking for overloaded vessels, unregistered vessels, people not wearing their kill cord or lack of safety equipment,” said Jessie Peacock with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s marine patrol is expecting a busy few days as more folks head south to enjoy Memorial Day weekend. Each stop is not a ticket. It’s more about educating and making sure everyone stays safe.

“One of the worst causes of accidents in Alabama is failing to maintain a proper lookout, so we’re always looking for a boat that’s loaded incorrectly, somebody that has their passengers or gear sitting in front of them,” said Lt. Ryan Bennett.

ALEA has already worked 37 accidents on the water across Alabama so this year. 4 of those were fatal. With so many waterways across our area it’s tough to patrol just by boat, though.

For the second year in a row, ALEA has a helicopter with lifeguards from Orange Beach and Gulf Shores covering the coast, relaying critical information to first responders on the ground and they’re prepared to assist with rescues when needed. That’s something that’s not always quick and easy by boat.

“Sometimes we’re not carrying enough troopers on board the patrol craft it’s hard to put a rescue swimmer overboard, so that’s been a tremendous program and a real asset to us,” Lt. Bennett explained.

Last year they were able to rescue 8 swimmers in distress all at once and deploy lifeguards by air to save those lives.