Ocean Rescue Operators Sharpen Skills with Jet Skis
‘Excellent and Realistic’ Exercises Held with Coast Guard, Others
Autumn and cooler weather usually mean less beach activity. Nevertheless, according to officials of the Southampton Town Parks and Recreation Department, local water safety personnel have been especially active as of late.
On October 1, the Town’s Personal Water Craft Ocean Rescue Operators carried out joint practice drills with the U.S. Coast Guard, as well as lifeguards from the Town of East Hampton, Jones Beach, and Southampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue.
“Lifeguards deal with so many mental and physical moving parts during the course of a rescue, so the more we can train and be prepared for various scenarios, the better,” said Parks Director Kristen Doulos. “This was a great opportunity for our local agencies to work together, learn from each other, and strengthen all of our abilities to respond in an emergency.”
The weekend’s training sessions built upon the success of earlier exercises town lifeguards have participated in since June. Over the summer, they practiced launching jet skis into local waters and utilizing the personal watercrafts (PWCs) for a variety of rescue types. Simulations included high surf conditions, swimmers in distress, and timed events. Mannequins were used to mimic unconscious and unresponsive swimmer situations and lifeguards practiced CPR while on sleds reaching top speeds of 40 mph. The teams also ran rescue drills at the Shinnecock Inlet to become familiar with operating in and around the jetties and to practice for emergencies such as those were a beachgoer or fisherman may have fallen from the rocks and into the inlet’s tricky currents. The summer training schedule also allowed the Parks Department to expand its roster of qualified rescue swimmers at Ponquogue, Tiana, and Hot Dog beaches.
“The addition of a PWC to our town beaches has had such a positive impact on lifeguard response times,” reported Chief Lifeguard Ann Naughton. “Sunday’s excellent and realistic training was focused on transferring a rescue swimmer between a Coast Guard vessel and PWC.”
After reviewing the day’s safety procedures, lifeguards practiced driving the jet ski up to a moving Coast Guard boat in Shinnecock Bay to pick up and unload a rescue swimmer. Though participants described the task as “very challenging,” everyone was able to do it successfully. Next, they went out to the ocean to practice pickups and driving through the waves on the sandbar with rescue swimmers on the sled.
“The relationships developed between all of the agencies was another positive experience for all of us,” Naughton continued. “We appreciate Coast Guard Station Shinnecock and Town of East Hampton PWC Instructor Steve McMahon for organizing this training. Our town lifeguards are eager to continue improving their skills with these types of opportunities.”
For the latest information about town beaches, lifeguards, and training, please visit www.southamptontownny.gov/parksrec