Channel Islands National Park, U.S. Coast Guard provides water safety training

Channel Islands National Park, U.S. Coast Guard provides water safety training

CHANNEL ISLANDS —The Channel Islands National Park (CINP) conducted a three-day joint agency safety training for their employees in early December. Captains and crew from the park’s offshore visitor transportation concessionaire, Island Packers Cruises, participated in the first day of water safety training.

United States Coast Guard Station Channel Islands (Harbor) Lt. Chris Miller and CPO Courtney Eastman gave a presentation that included a video showing survival lessons learned from the Coast Guard’s Cold Water Boot Camp. The objective was to create awareness of the importance of wearing life jackets, cold-water survival techniques and rescue-boat procedures.

According to the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the first phase is called the cold-water shock. Data shows that roughly 20 percent of victims die in the first minute as people usually panic and drown. For some victims, the cold shock triggers a heart attack. Surviving this stage requires staying calm and getting one’s breathing under control.

The second phase is cold-water incapacitation. Over the next 10 minutes the victim will lose the use of their fingers, arms and legs for any meaningful movement. So the individual must concentrate on self-rescue or swim failure will occur within these crucial 10 minutes. If they are in the water without a life jacket, drowning is likely.

Several enlisted Coast Guard personnel served as trainers, spotters and “victims.” The first day also involved members from cooperating agencies and park partners.

Training included the CINP’s boat crew deploying one of their vessel’s life rafts at the dock into the water.

Additional practical cold-water survival training was conducted in a local hotel’s swimming pool to demonstrate and teach essential techniques for increasing survival probabilities in the water, and the use of deployed life rafts.

While at the dock, attendees observed Coast Guard Man Overboard procedures, and while underway on board the Park Service’s 100-foot vessel Ocean Ranger, trainees watched a Coast Guard Man Overboard rescue using a dummy as the victim. Then attendees participated in hands-on training throwing heaving lines for the potential retrieval of a victim in the water.

Lee Fleischer, a participant and boat captain for Island Packers said, “this was an excellent opportunity to train with partner agencies who work on and in the waters offshore at the National Park. As an addition to the monthly training of our boat crews, the Coast Guard’s presentation raised awareness of the importance of vigilance, preparedness and the ability to take action in the event of emergency situations in our local cold water environment.”

Yvonne Menard, chief information officer for the CINP, said, “we conduct annual and bi-annual employee training, this year we decided to extend it to others who work on the water. It was a great opportunity to get everyone from different backgrounds, skills and job designations to work together as a team and to be able to respond to a man overboard or other emergency on the water.”

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