Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rescue 21 works when needed

Saw this item today from New Jersey:

LITTLE EGG HARBOR — A husband and wife who had fallen overboard and left behind four children in a boat in the bay Thursday afternoon were rescued by a passing salvage crew working for Towboat US.
The Coast Guard received a phone call from 16-year-old Cary Skrzat at 2:11 p.m. reporting that her parents,Phillip, 45, and Stacy Skrzat, 42, of Telford, Pa., had fallen off the family's 25-foot boat and drifted out of sight. The daughter and three other siblings remained on the boat but did not know where they were, said Petty Officer Nyxolyno A. Cangemi, a Coast Guard spokesman.
The Coast Guard then initiated a direction-finding system known as Rescue 21 to identify the boat's position through its radio signal.
As a rescue helicopter from the Coast Guard's Atlantic City station and a boat crew from the Barnegat Light station launched a search for the missing couple, a nearby commercial salvage crew from Towboat US overheard the call, found the couple and pulled them to safety.
The salvage crew then towed the family's boat to nearby Cedar Cove Marina in Tuckerton.
It remains unclear how or why the couple went overboard, Cangemi said, though they reported their boat's engine was disabled at the time.
The Rescue 21 system is a newly-established search command procedure that aims to reduce coverage gaps along the coastline and allow the Coast Guard to better monitor and track boats.
"Rescue 21 saved some lives today," said Petty Officer 1st Class Kyle Gerkens, who coordinated the search.

The final quote has me thinking we need a better public relations strategy. Rescue 21 certainly deserves the credit for finding the location of the signal from the boat with the kids on it, but it was the actions of the TowBoat/US crew that "found the couple" and therefore saved their lives.

Its great that Rescue 21 is up and operational, and it appears to function as designed - allowing the USCG to pinpoint an incoming radio signal. But I think a more accurate quote would have been "With the help of equipment like Rescue 21, a commercial salvor saved some lives today..."

Ok, I'm over it.