NORTH COAST- Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay is in its second week of annual training. We got an inside look on how the air and boat station collaborate for evaluations.
Coast guard pilots, flights mechanics and swimmers are evaluated on rescue operations with help from the boat station in Samoa.
“What we do initially is establish communications with the helicopter and they give us a game plan of what we're going to do,” said Jamie Scott, Boatswain Mate First Class.
Before going out on the boat, it's best to be equipped with an anti-exposure coverall. It's a device to increase the chances of survival in cold water.
The crew first practiced hoisting evolutions with a basket.
“One with a trail line, one without a trail like and one dead in the water, those were all basket hoists, and those are probably the most common type of hoist the helicopter crews are going to do,” said Scott.
Next, swimmers execute various rescue pick-ups into the helicopter.
“The flight mechanic has to show his ability to put us in the water and pick us up from the water along with a survivor. The pilot, has to show his ability to listen to the flight mechanic correctly, do what he's telling him to do, all the while, hold a steady hover to give him a good platform to make these deliveries and pick-ups,” said Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer, Brian Johnson.
Everyone involved is highly skilled and executes each drill with precision, but that type of accuracy comes with time and the ability to calm your nerves.
“We're put in a precarious position, where the helicopter is usually 20 feet above our heads,” said Scott.
“It's pretty nerve-racking when you first do it, because you're like oh my gosh, this helicopter is hovering right above my head,” said Colleen Wilson, Boatswain Mate Third Class.
Scott says, “But I trust all the pilots that fly and I trust all the flight mechanics that control the hoist and cable.”
It’s truly an impressive display of teamwork.
“They can't do it without us and we can't do it without them,” said Wilson.
Training pays off for the Coast Guard. They just rescued two people in distress aboard a sailboat Tuesday near Fort Bragg. An aircrew was dispatched from Sector Humboldt Bay and a boatcrew from Noyo River.