The Importance of Communication In An Emergency
Spivak/National Press CorpsUnited States Coast Guard Auxiliary
BOSTON (AP) A disabled fishing vessel that drifted overnight in
waters 80 miles south of Marthas Vineyard during the first major snowstorm to hit
New England this season, was being towed to shore Saturday.
WARRENTON, OR - An amazing story of survival, after a 67-year
old man gets stuck on a sand bar in the middle of the Columbia River and ends up spending
the night there. KATU 2 News
LONG BEACH, Wash.
-- The Coast Guard airlifted Tyler McLaughlin, 21, of Tillamook, Ore. from the fishing
yesterday evening. US Coast Guard
seemingly un-related; A fishing vessel south
of Marthas Vineyard; A man on the Columbia River near Warrenton, Oregon, and another
man off Long Beach Washington. Three events
that happened in the first week of December 2003. No, this is not the beginning for a new
episode of the Twilight Zone. Its real
life news, events that have happened, and unfortunately will probably happen again.
In New England
the vessel Miss Judith, out of Freeport, NY lost her engines. She was adrift in 60 knot winds and 18 foot seas. What did the Miss Judith do? They called the Coast Guard. In Warrenton Oregon,
Jerry Hanes was moving his boat from Chinook, located in Washington State to Warrenton. As is common in that area of the country, fog
rolled in, but what was uncommon was the density of the fog. Mr. Hanes struck a sand bar and grounded. What did Mr. Hanes do? He called the Coast Guard. Seven miles off the coast of Long Beach, Washington,
Tyler McLaughlin was working the fishing vessel Grenada. While
handling deck lines, he suffered a compound wrist facture.
What did the Captain of the Grenada do?
They called the Coast Guard.
Our stories all center on an
emergency and a call to the Coast Guard. In
each story, the actions or the Coast Guard differed.
From just monitoring the situation, to air dropping supplies, or airlifting
the individual out of their situation, the Coast Guard was in contact with the vessels in
The story here is about
communications - emergency communications. Each
vessel had the proper radio (VHF or SSB) to contact the Coast Guard. Each vessel knew how to contact the Coast Guard,
and knew what information they needed at a minimum to provide them in order to aid
The United States Coast Guard
Auxiliary, through its Recreational Boating Safety mission, urges all members of the
Boating community do become familiar with not only the operations of their individual
VHF/SSB radios, but what steps and information is needed when contacting the Coast Guard
in an emergency. Time is non-renewable, as stated in a speech recently given by VADM
Thomas Barrett, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard.
In an emergency, time may be
of the essence, and should not be wasted. Every
crew member and guest should be given a briefing on how to use your radio, and what
information is needed in case of an emergency (and where to find it).
Here is what the Coast Guard
Auxiliary suggests you have in place before next boating season:
- Knowledge of where you are at all times (GPS/Loran
helps, but a chart is imperative; and electronics
can and often do fail).
- How many are on-board: Adults/Children and do they have
- Whats wrong? What is the nature of the distress?
- Description of your Vessel (Name, Make, Length, Type,
Color, Registration numbers/Boat name).
These four simple
but extremely important pieces of information may just save your life some day. This is the initial, crucial information the Coast
Guard will request when you call for an emergency. To
see the actual Initial SAR Check Sheet used by the United States Coast Guard
go to http://www.auxguidanceskills.info/press/uscg-sarcheck.pdf
talking emergency communication, we wish to remind people that a MAYDAY call requires that
all chatter on the frequency be halted immediately, and that only the parties to the
Should you hear a
MAYDAY, and not hear a response from the Coast Guard, it is possible that the transmission
from the vessel in danger did not reach the Coast Guard. It is highly unlikely that youll
hear the distress call, and the Coast Guard will not (due to the placement of many of the
Coast Guards antenna installations), but it is possible.
If the Coast
Guard does not acknowledge the MAYDAY transmission, it is your duty to act as an
intermediary for that vessel and contact the Coast Guard for that distressed vessel. You may be the only chance that the distress
vessel has to reach the Coast Guard.
Lastly, only use
MAYDAY if there is a grave and imminent danger to life or property. Use Pan Pan, for serious emergencies, that dont
warrant a MAYDAY. S�curit� is used to warn
other boaters of a issues that threaten the safety of navigation (a tow underway, a log in
the water, etc).
information on boating safety, contact your United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla
by visiting us on the web at www.cgaux.org or contacting your local Coast Guard unit www.uscg.mil.