Thus began this press release issued by the 17th Coast Guard
District, in Alaska. What’s unfortunate, not only for
this man and his dog, is that this type of incident is way to
common, whether near Alaska or the Baja, the Florida Panhandle
or Long Island Sound.
What incident you may ask? In this case, it was engine trouble,
in other cases it could be grounding or hull breach or even
swamping. But the real incident is the lack of prompt contact
with the Coast Guard.
"Anytime mariners feel they may be in a dangerous situation,
we highly recommend they immediately contact the Coast Guard
to make us aware of the problem regardless of how severe it
may appear," said Cmdr. Mike Kendall, 17th Coast Guard
District Chief of Search and Rescue.
Speed of response is of the essence, when it comes to any type
of rescue. Examples can be drawn from fire services and emergency
medical services world-wide, that the sooner they are notified,
the faster they can respond. How many times have we read reports
of fires that spread with unbelievable speed, just before the
fire department arrived, only to find that the call to the fire
department was delayed.
For cardiac arrest victims, the window of opportunity is small,
only 4 to 6 minutes and once gone, so is the victims life. R
Adams Cowley, MD, the creator and founder of the Shock Trauma
Center at the University of Maryland, based this unique medical
concept on “the Golden Hour”. Based on his experiences
in Vietnam, as well as his research in the states, Dr Crowley
discovered that if you are a victim of trauma, and you are treated
within an hour of your injuries, your chances of both recovery
and survival increase dramatically.
The same holds true for Search and Rescue. A search can not
be started if the system has not been activated. The faster
the system is activated the faster the responding agencies (Coast
Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary) can bring to bear the assets
necessary to reach the scene and begin the rescue phase. However,
if you don’t notify the Coast Guard that you are in a
“situation”, they will not be able to monitor your
progress, pre-position assets in case your situation deteriorates
and ultimately engage these assets to effect a search and rescue.
On January 23rd, at 12:23 pm, the Coast Guard was notified,
hours after the missing man had contacted a nearby fishing boat.
Two helicopters were dispatched, and at 12:54 located a debris
field. The second helicopter crew arrived on scene and located
a survival suit bag and a rolled up survival suit. They also
located a life ring amidst a major debris field. At 4 p.m.,
in six-foot seas with 15-knot winds, the rescuers located a
10-foot section of a boat's stern.
On January 26th, after searching for approximately three days,
the Coast Guard suspended their search for the man and his dog,
around noon-time. The Coast Guard had assets on scene within
thirty minutes of the notification of a distress.
However, if they had been notified earlier, at the on-set of
the problems, maybe this scenario would have been: “The
Coast Guard today rescued a man and his dog, after their vessel…..”