Safety First!
by Wayne Spivak
National Press Corps
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary



You’d be Surprised by the Numbers
The Coast Guard Auxiliary involvement in SAR

With
LT Peter Trebbe, USCG
Operations Division
Office of the Chief Director (G-OCX)
United States Coast Guard

People have been lying for centuries. What makes their statistical lies so dangerous today is that so many people in the media are ready to accept and broadcast statistics…

Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution

Mr. Sowell is discussing statistics that are used in the course of making political argument from both right and left wing political groups, some statistics do tell an interesting story, and are prima face evidence of the importance of the performance of the statistical sampling.

So how does statistics interpolate with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Coast Guard and Search and Rescue? It is a measurement of how much work is done by these volunteers, at a fraction of the cost to the Nation, and many times in areas that the Coast Guard itself is not present.

That’s right, in many areas of this country, the only interaction boaters (both recreational and commercial) will have with the Coast Guard is the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Auxiliary is the volunteer uniformed civilian component of the United States Coast Guard. These 39,000 men and women donated so far in excess of 730,000 hours in 2004. This is an average of 18 hours of volunteer work per person.

While Auxiliarist’s can perform any Coast Guard mission save for military action and direct law enforcement, many Auxiliarist’s spend countless hours either augmenting at Stations, Groups, and Cutters, while other’s spend it performing a myriad of on-the-water safety patrols, Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) patrols and are involved in Search and Rescue (SAR).

Numbers tell much

In 2004, 1,100 hours were spent running the secondary Auxiliary Net (radio), an additional 6,800 hours were invested in actively prosecuting (or on standby) SAR cases, and another 76,000 hours were spent on a variety of activities, such as Ice Patrols, Aids to Navigation, Marine Patrols and Environmental Protection.

In 2003, over 4 million hours were donated, which is about 110 hours for each Auxiliarist. 5,500 hours were spent running the secondary Auxiliary Net (radio), an additional 114,000 hours were invested in actively prosecuting (or on standby) SAR cases, and another 693,000 hours were spent on a variety of activities, such as Ice Patrols, Aids to Navigation, Marine Patrols and Environmental Protection.

Training

All members of the Boat Crew program undergo similar training to that of their Active Duty and Reserve counterparts. Utilizing the same texts with modified PQS’s, Auxiliarist member training consumed over 50,000 hours so far, this year, and over 145,000 hours in 2003.

Safety of both the Auxiliarist, the vessel (whether marine or air) and the public is utmost in the lexicon of the Auxiliary, and the time spent learning and honing these skills is evident in the time spent (about 3% of all volunteer hours is spent in member training).

Summary

Are these statistics correct? We doubt it. From personal knowledge, we know that these numbers are unfortunately UNDERSTATED. The reasons of varied, but mostly it’s because Auxiliarists, like most people disdain paperwork. Capturing one’s hours, and then filling in a myriad of reports takes not only time away from the mission, but a different type of mindset.

Statistics, according to our friend Mr. Sowell do lie, but as far as the Auxiliary and its overall contribution to the Coast Guard, they tell part of the truth, but that part is pretty darn impressive.

All numbers are taken from the 12 April 2004 running of AUXDATA, the data collection program for the Auxiliary - http://www.auxinfo.uscg.gov