Thursday, September 01, 2005

Not just Coasties chomping at the bit

Last month, the now-defunct Group Hampton Roads presented Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department a Certificate of Merit award on the occaission of their 30th anniversary. The citiation read,
For their selfless performance of duty with sustained professional service. During the period from July 1975 through July 2005, the Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department provided 30 years of dedicated public service with operational, educational, and environmental volunteer support to the U.S. Coast Guard and the recreational boating public of the Smith Mountain Lake community. This service has evolved into a significant force multiplier and has made a major contribution to the fulfillment of Coast Guard missions where Coast Guard resources are limited. During this bountiful service, conservative estimates reflect that the Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department conducted thousands of safety patrols and water rescues, responding to more than 300 calls annually, resulting in the saving of lives and property and other direct assistance to boaters. The Department’s eight boats and crews annually extinguished more than 60 fires, saved over 100 boaters, provided numerous emergency medical services, and saved countless recreational boats from sinking, fire damage, and environmental spills. In addition to the hundreds of instances of life and property saved and assisted, these conscientious volunteers have provided significant hours in community service through immediate action at dangerous spills, fire prevention presentations, and public safety support of special events, including parades and regattas. Through the Department’s public education outreach, thousands of boaters have received an increased awareness of the elements of recreational boating and fire safety. With its various missions, Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department has never wavered in its commitment to the prevention of loss of life on the water. These outstanding guardians of the public and their property have distinguished themselves enumerable times both individually and in concert with the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary. The professionalism and devotion to duty of the Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire/Rescue Department are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Coast Guard.
Why talk about the last 30 years on this blog? Because it speaks to today.

I posted earlier that my phone has been ringing off the hook from reservists. They're not the only ones who have called. I'm sitting this week at the desk of the Sector Hampton Roads' station supervisor and Auxiliary liaison. Dave's on two weeks of well-deserved leave, and I'm keeping his seat warm (and standing his duty). In his role as the Auxiliary liaison, Dave went out to Smith Mountain Lake in July to present the citation; he gave them his number and told them to call him if they ever needed anything.

They called.

They, like our Coasties I blogged about yesterday, want to help out. They have boats and people and were willing to deploy.

They may be volunteers, but they are professionals. Their leaders understand that just showing up doesn't really help matters. Emergency managers have developed the Incident Command System to manage large scale responses. The use of this system is nearly universal here in the United States with emergency services providers. Here's the email chain (I've cleaned it up slightly, but haven't changed the wording; this is it):

-----Original Message-----
From: Stinson, Peter LT
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 12:26 PM
To: Condit, Richard Lieutenant
Subject: SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE MARINE FIRE RESCUE VOLUNTEERS TO DEPLOY IN
RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA


Sir,

I received a call from the chief at Smith Mountain Marine Fire Rescue; they are volunteering to deploy in response to Hurricane Katrina. They've contacted the Red Cross, FEMA, and EMAC (sic) at the Commonwealth and so far haven't had any takers. They were wondering if the CG could use them…

They are offering:
Four transportable boats (two fire boats and two Zodiaks)
Personnel including firefighters, emergency medical technicians (certified to paramedic), and certified rescue divers.

I told him somebody would give him a ring back shortly…

POC:
Skip Decker, Assistant Chief
Jack Gautier, Chief

If there's anything I can do, please let me know.

Thanks.


-----Original Message-----
From: Condit, Richard Lieutenant Commander
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2005 1:03 PM
To: Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire Rescue


Chiefs,

Thank you for you generous offer. I have a call in to our District Office to see how and if we could digest your offer. I am sure there must be some precedent set in the past on how and if we can use civilian volunteers, albeit organized as a Department.

Issue is truly clerical/legal as I KNOW your services would certainly be valuable in theatre. Reports indicate that our air crews are consistently pulling survivors off of roofs and in some cases are having to cut into roofs to pull survivors out that sought refuge in the attic, but cannot exit the space up or down.

Will let you know as soon as we get an answer.

Thanks
LCDR Rich Condit


-----Original Message-----
From: Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire Rescue
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 9:08 AM
To: Stinson, Peter LT


Lt. Peter Stinson,

Again just making contact, to see if we can assist with Fireboats. We have two small Boston Whalers equipped with 500gpm pumps, deck mounted monitors, along with 3"hand lines, as well as 11/2" handlines, EMS equipment, EMT's, Firefighter's and Rescue Divers. All willing to assist .

We see on the TV news that they are asking for trained volunteers, if we can assist we are ready to roll.

Please let us know!

T/Y
Skip Decker
Assistant Fire Chief
Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire Rescue


-----Original Message-----
From: Stinson, Peter LT
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 9:09 AM
To: Condit, Richard Lieutenant Commander


How is it some agency hasn't jumped at this offer? What can I do -- if anything -- to facilitate this?


-----Original Message-----
From: Stinson, Peter LT
Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 9:23 AM
To: Smith Mountain Marine Fire Rescue


Chief,

Agreed... It looks very, very bad... I'll shake the chain and see what happens... Have you also gone back to the Commonwealth?

I'll keep pinging... There's also the possibility you could launch and get down there and just start helping... This isn't the best answer and I know there are a host of issues doing it that way... I suspect the Commonwealth's EMAC is the best bet for something official...

More to follow, I'm sure...

Altus tendo,
/s/ Peter
Peter A. Stinson, Lieutenant
Command Duty Officer
Response Department, Sector Hampton Roads


-----Original Message-----
From: Condit, Richard Lieutenant Commander
Sent: Wednesday, September 1, 6:01 AM
To: Smith Mountain Marine Fire Rescue


Chiefs,

We were in a holding pattern until late last night. The teams in the gulf have changed their request from 6 small 2 person crews to operate skiffs to larger 4 person teams for our bigger boats, and with weapons/vests. We will have a dozen members on a CG plane today departing from Elizabeth city flying into a Naval Air Station just below New Orleans.

We are also sending 4 management personnel to our St. Louis command post, by commercial air.

We are still ready to go with trucks, skiffs and RHIs, but have not been requested to do so, and may not be at all. Wanted to share that with you for what that’s worth.

We have a major staging area in Mobile, AL, Alexandria LA (Check in area), and Baton Rouge.

Rich
:)


-----Original Message-----
From: Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire Rescue
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 6:28 AM
To: Condit, Richard Lieutenant Commander


Good Morning!

Thanks for the update. Jack has been in contact with the person in charge of logistics at the governor's office in Louisiana. As of 7:00pm last night, he stated that he was 95% sure that we would be asked to be deployed. We have two small Zodiac boats and one small Fireboat with 500gpm pump on it, along with SCBA's, chain saws, K-12 saw, hoses, ropes and other supplies. We are bringing a camper along with extra diesel and gasoline, trying to be as self sufficient as we can.

We have nine personnel ready to leave within a couple of hours.

We will stay in touch and thank you for your update!

Have a good day!

Skip


-----Original Message-----
From: Condit, Richard Lieutenant Commander
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 6:37 AM
To: Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire Rescue


Sure wish I could go with your teams or mine!!

I am sure your folks have been frustrated that the system could not digest them earlier. Certainly they would have been amply employed!

My contact in theatre told me last night that my people should expect to live in tents on the ground, and eat MREs. As much as you can bring to be self sufficient, you are wise to bring with you. I would not go expecting to be fully supported by the system as it doesn't appear to be terribly robust just yet.

I lived in New Orleans for 2 years, and I am sure the need for bug spray is just as relevant now, if not worse for the hurricane. Brings gallons!

Be safe.

Rich
:)


-----Original Message-----
From: Stinson, Peter LT
Sent: Thursday, September 01, 2005 6:41 AM
To: Smith Mountain Lake Marine Fire Rescue


Chief Decker,

Godspeed. May your team have fair winds & following seas.

Peace,

/s/ Peter S.


As you can see, things are progressing all the way around.

We're not only standing on the beach ball, we're juggling with fruit.

No comments:

Post a Comment