Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Search and Rescue Operations

After about 10 years of performing Search and Rescue (SAR) operations for the troopers, a visiting trooper stopped by the station and referred to CVFD as "SAR Central". I thought that was cool.

The first search and rescue operation that we did for them was in 1975, when Tooper Mike Metrokin called me and said a boat was sinking out in the Sound, and although he would usually get some resources out there before the Coast Guard could arrive, he could barely walk because of an injured back. We gathered up some dewatering pumps from the harbormaster, some survival suits from the fishermen’s union, a couple of 2-man CO2 inflatable life rafts that can be deployed from an aircraft and flew them out to the sinking boat. Consequently, grateful fishermen purchased numerous sea/air rescue items to keep at the fire station, and that began a 30-year history of search and rescue operations in an area larger than the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined. Whether over open-water, or bear-infested islands, across glaciers or up snow covered mountains, or an avalanche (documented on “Real TV” and subject of a documentary produced in London and aired in Europe), SARs became so routine, we would stress out more trying to organize a department barbeque than run a multi-day SAR involving boats, aircraft, and ground-search teams.