As the bright red United States Coast Guard helo hovered 25 yards above the surface of the water, a thick mist was generated and blew in the faces of the viewers along the sideline of Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey as they witnessed a real-time mock rescue exercise during the annual Discover Marina del Rey Day held Sunday, October 8th.
In a deafening exhibition, boats from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Fire Department, Baywatch and Coast Guard Auxiliary stood by as the Coast Guard performed a sample of their highly specialized service. With one guardsman acting as victim, another played the part of rescuer and saved him using a variety of different methods.
“We all worked hand-in-hand to give the public a good feeling for what we do,” said Coast Guard Auxiliary public affairs director Anthony Turner of the collaboration between the various public safety agencies that were involved in the demonstration. “And there was an overwhelming positive response from the spectators on hand.”
The helicopter is a Coast Guard HH-65A “Dolphin” Short Range Recovery Helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles and it is the aircraft most often deployed for the more common coastal rescue situations we hear about in this area.
The copter is a “twin-engine aircraft that operates up to 150 miles off-shore and will fly comfortably at 120 knots for three hours,” according to Globalsecu rity.org, a site that concerns itself with matters of homeland security.
The Burton Chace crowd watched their tax dollars at work as the rescue team performed drills that would be typical of an ordinary rescue training day. They demonstrated three different methods by which they would assist in an emergency situation and citizens got to see some of the equipment and expertise the Coast Guard utilizes to patrol our coastlines.
“Every day, the Dolphin is used to go on patrol,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Nathan Henise. “They’re flying out there daily, not necessarily doing search patrols, but they’re always flying out — every day they’re up in the air.”
Fortunately, according to Henise, in this area the helo doesn’t need to be deployed all that often during the course of a year to perform the kinds of rescues the Guard was exhibiting last Sunday.
But due to our proximity to LAX and Los Angeles Harbor, and our capability of boating year-round, the Coast Guard in Southern California has to be trained on the highest level and prepared for the most extreme circumstances.
For boaters, the dramatic acrobatic display was a reminder of the perils that lurk beneath the surface of this seemingly safe and harmless pastime.
For the non-boaters who witnessed the precise execution of our specialized branch of the military from the green lawn of Burton Chace Park, it may have been a reminder that this is a post 9/11 place in history.
While we go about our day-to-day business, daily work is being done for the benefit of our overall safety and well-being.