Mackinac Island police car, fire truck and ambulance, oh my!

Psst. Here’s a secret: There actually are cars on Mackinac Island.

While the Crown Jewel of the Great Lakes is culturally car-free and has been for more than a century, you’ll be glad to know that Mackinac Island’s emergency services have a few motor vehicles available.

For one, there’s a police car on Mackinac Island. Fire trucks, too. There’s also an ambulance on hand to transport people to the Mackinac Island Medical Center, if necessary. (Funny thing is, the emergency vehicles once crashed into each other! More on that later.)

You probably won’t see any of these vehicles during your visit to Mackinac Island, unless you come when there’s a scheduled training simulation, like Sept. 7-8. But you can rest assured that they’re there, just in case. Here’s video of a Mackinac Island fire truck in winter for proof!

Here are a few more things to know about emergency services on Mackinac Island:

Officer sits in driver's seat of Mackinac Island Police truck in front of Mackinac Island Police Department

Mackinac Island Police Department

Mackinac Island police patrol on foot and bicycle in the summer and there’s a police vehicle available for emergencies. The force that includes a chief, corporal and handful of officers responds to about 100 incidents per year.

The police department is also where visitors go to get their bicycle licensed if they bring their own bike Mackinac Island.

In the winter offseason on Mackinac Island, city police frequently patrol on snowmobile. When not responding to emergencies, the police car often gets used to bring senior citizens from the island’s year-round population of about 500 to daily destinations such as church, the airport, downtown shops and the Mackinac Island Medical Center.

The Mackinac Island Fire Department truck responds to a late-night call on a snowy downtown street in winter

Mackinac Island Fire Department

Mackinac Island has two ladder trucks, a pumper, a squad truck and a highly trained department of about three dozen fine firefighters including a chief and deputy chiefs, captain, lieutenant, sergeants, fire marshal and engineer. The ranks grow a little in summer with seasonal members.

Located on Market Street downtown, the Mackinac Island Fire Department is the oldest fire department in Michigan, dating back to the early 1800s. These days, the department responds to about 100 calls per year including not only fires but a wide range of service requests.

A growing number of fire calls on Mackinac Island are related to e-bike batteries that are prone to explode in flames. E-bikes are prohibited on Mackinac Island for most people.

Mackinac Marine Rescue crew stand on the boat in the water off Mackinac Island with Ste. Anne’s Church in the background

Mackinac Island Marine Rescue

Established in 2015, marine rescue on Mackinac Island is operated by the city using a 31-foot SAFE boat. The department includes more than a dozen on shore and water crew plus a commander and multiple coxswain who steer the boat during rescue operations.

Mackinac Island Marine Rescue trains closely with U.S. Coast Guard stations nearby and responds to upwards of 60 emergency calls annually. While the majority of calls involve medical evacuations, the crew also participates in several search-and-rescue operations each year and also assists other area emergency services agencies in need of water operations.

The Mackinac Island EMS ambulance features custom graphics depicting island scenes such as a horse drawn carriage and lilacs

Mackinac Island EMS

While emergency medical services on Mackinac Island used a horse-drawn ambulance in the old days, there’s now a motorized vehicle available for EMS response. Ironically, the custom graphics on the vehicle include an image of a horse-drawn ambulance!

Mackinac Island EMS is part of Cheboygan Life Support Systems.

A Mackinac Island Medical Center sign with an arrow pointing up a street toward the building

Mackinac Island Medical Center

Located on Market Street downtown, the medical center on Mackinac Island provides basic health care during daytime hours in addition to emergency service 24 hours a day. The center houses doctors and other staff who are part of the Mackinac Straits Health System.

The medical center is the go-to health clinic for many of Mackinac Island’s 500 year-round residents. It also provides convenient access to Mackinac Island visitors for walk-in care during the day and emergency service around the clock.


Since there are only a few motor vehicles on Mackinac Island, auto accidents are exceedingly rare. However, one did occur several years ago when a fire truck responding to a medical emergency clipped the open door of an ambulance.

That little fender bender notwithstanding, you can count on the emergency services of Mackinac Island to keep you safe during your visit!

Share on Social
Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top