Behind the scenes of Coast Guard rescue missions


DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (WKRG) – News 5’s Caroline Carithers got a front-row seat to how the Coast Guard trains for search and rescue missions by getting to go on the boat during training to witness troubleshooting steering failure, a man-overboard drill, and more!

Lieutenant Commander Trevor Blount, the Command Center Chief and Search and Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator says, “The Coast Guard’s objectives in conducting search and rescue missions is to minimize a loss of life and injury and loss of property in the marine environment.”

He also explains that once they get a call about a person in distress, they work to locate the person, reach out to local partners, and launch their most efficient assets whether it be ships, boats, or aircraft.

“In any given year we range between 400 and 500 cases. Of those, we have 150 to 200 persons that we count as lives saved and another 300 to 400 persons that we count as lives assisted.” Lieutenant Commander Blount goes on to say that there are 5 to 10 people per year in our area that are unable to be saved.

Depending on a person’s role, the training time varies. For coxswains (in charge of boats), the training takes 12 to 18 months, 6 to 12 months for boat crews, and 2 to 3 years for pilots.

Today crewmembers demonstrated how to troubleshoot issues when the boat’s steering failed and a man-overboard drill where they train to rescue a person in distress.

Below is the rescue planning software that the Coast Guard uses. On this image, the green dot is the original location of the person in distress. The algorithm then takes into account the currents, wind, waves, and tides to create thousands of points, the pixels you see, of where the person could have moved. This area continuously updates and is where the CG focuses its searches. The black lines you see are different asset paths, either aircrafts, boats, or ships. 

The Coast Guard rescue planning software

For the behind the scenes training, check out the video!


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