Friday, September 02, 2005

Persons of the Week: Coast Guard Rescue Teams

Saving Lives, Offering Hope in Katrina's Wake All In a Day's Work
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Joel Sayers and hundreds of rescuers like him have spent the past five days saving thousands of lives in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
"The Coast Guard itself is basically a service of saving lives and that's the one thing that I've always wanted to do," said Sayers. "When I saw there was a possibility of being a rescue swimmer, it just gave me a great opportunity to get out there and do that."
Hurricane Katrina has given Sayers more opportunity than he ever imagined.
"I wish I had a 747, so could I swoop down there and pick up these people, but I don't," said Lt. Cmdr. Nevada Smith, a Coast Guard pilot.
Even with the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, an estimated 80,000 people didn't leave the city. The Coast Guard got there as quickly as the weather would allow.
"I didn't think there would be that many people waving at us as we went by, but there's hundreds of people who need help, and we can only hoist so many," said Petty Officer Larry Robinson, a Coast Guard aviation mechanic.
These rescue teams are trained to save people from very different kind of environments.
"We're used to being on big seas and taking people off fishing boats, but this is way different. Now you're taking somebody off a rooftop," said rescue swimmer Scott Rady.
The urban landscape of crisscrossing power lines, contaminated water and desperate people is making the work that much harder.
"The problem is houses with very, very steep roof lines, shingles, things flying off, a lot of debris," said Sayers. "There's just so many different obstacles you run into and so many different dangers."


Blogger NYgirl said...

What a wonderful article. I'll link this to my best of America post tomorrow.

7:31 PM  

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