U.S. Coast Guard: The last line of defense in a storm

2:12 PM, May 31, 2013   |    comments
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Clearwater, Florida -- With every storm, there are thos who don't listen to the warnings to evacuate and end up putting themselves, and others, in harm's way.

In nearly every storm, brave Coast Guard rescue teams willingly fly into perilous storms to save sailors in danger.

In 2012, during Hurricane Sandy, the tall ship HMS Bounty tried to outrun the storm. Two crew members, including St. Petersburg captain Robin Walbridge, died.

Rescuing boaters takes skillful coordination among the team, including the swimmer who pulls survivors into the rescue basket.

"You instill confidence back into them that everything is going to be okay," said Petty Officer Third Class Wesley Price. "Let them know that I'm there to help them and they're going to be fine now. There's no more need to worry."

In April, PO Price saved a man who was in the water 20 miles off Anclote Key.

Help and encouragement also comes from the crew members back on the rescue helicopter.

"Anytime you're working the hoist, the waves and the wind are always the first problem you're going to run into, or the first possible challenge," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Devin Lloyd. "You yourself are going to be timing waves and working with winds. The pilots are also doing the same thing with the aircrafts. Sometimes the most challengign part can be working together to be on the same page."

 Of course, rescues aren't always over the ocean. Coast Guard crews often have to rescue hurricane victims who are stranded by storm surge or floodwaters if they fail to evacuate.

"It almost seemed like a movie set to me," said Lt. Commander Rick Hipes, who flew resuce missions during Hurricane Katrina.  "There were full size pickup trucks upside-down on rooftops. Water was flooding, there were animals everywhere, it was difficult to believe."

The best advice if you have a boat, is to make sure you always have an EPIRB device which will send out your precise location.

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