BRUNSWICK, Ga. – U.S. Coast Guard Station Brunswick and Air Station Savannah gave our News4JAX crew an inside look Monday at search and rescue operations ahead of next month’s National Safe Boating Week, which runs May 22-28.
During a mock search and rescue operation, Coast Guard crews jumped from a helicopter into a small boat. It was wet and dangerous.
Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Granger is the designated swimmer. In a crisis, he maneuvers from the helicopter into the water to assist with the rescue.
“During a rescue, it just depends on the situation. But we’re the ones that go down, assess the situation, see what needs to be done,” Granger said.
Granger can’t do it on his own. There are about four members per crew.
The entire team plays a critical role, starting with the two officers in front of the boat steering the operation.
“Our job -- me and him -- were both coxswains, boatswain’s mates. Basically, at any time underway, we’re in charge of the vessel and the crew. You’re in charge of keeping your guys and girls safe,” Lee Green said.
During rescue missions, it is important for crews to work together. They depend on one another to finish the mission.
One tactic used frequently in rescue missions is dropping a basket from a helicopter and loading survivors inside to bring them to safety.
“The basket comes down; they would open the rails. The survivor would go into the basket, they would reconnect the hook to the basket, and it would go back up to the helicopter,” Granger said.
The Coast Guardsmen shared this message about safety with boaters.
“My message to boaters would be, the equipment that is required for your size vessel and your type of vessel -- have that equipment on board because it’s needed for a reason -- on your worst day,” Jacob Flores said.
“You see it on the news, or you see it in like movies and stuff and you kind of understand it,” Keith Shotts said. “When you’re out here doing it, it’s a much different story.”