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Flotilla 1-7 Member Training

Posted by: James Mc Dermott, FSO-PA

awards committee  
    Photo by Roger Bazeley 

    One of the hats I wear at present is Chair of the District Awards Committee, and some of the award recommendations I receive tell impressive stories. I thought I would share a few of those stories with you to illustrate some of the remarkable things Auxiliarists do.

   In one instance, an Auxiliarist was doing vessel safety checks at one of the inland lakes. The owner of a gasoline-powered boat at the fuel dock started his engine, and it exploded into flames, blowing the owner’s wife and dog into the water. The first, and in some ways the most remarkable, thing the Auxiliarist did was to turn off the valve to the pumps at the fuel dock, thereby preventing the potential for a much more serious incident. Fortunately, the Auxiliarist had just shown the owner how to use his fire extinguisher, and now told him to use it, while he rounded up more extinguishers from other boaters. Meanwhile, other boaters pulled the wife—who wasn’t wearing a life jacket—out of the water, and the dog—who WAS wearing a life jacket.

   On another one of our inland lakes, the park service sponsors a Moonlight Kayak cruise. One night in July, the event was going well, with eighteen kayaks on the water, the participants enjoying the beautiful evening, when suddenly the wind increased to about 25 knots, with waves building to two to three feet, overturning some of the kayaks and throwing their occupants into the water. Fortunately there were two Auxiliary vessels on patrol. One of the vessels and its crew immediately rescued four of the kayakers, then another four, and finally an elderly couple, transporting a total of ten kayakers and five kayaks to safety ashore. Meanwhile, the other vessel rescued another kayaker and took him and his kayak to shore, then escorted four other kayaks to safety.

   On another occasion, an Auxiliary couple were relaxing on their vessel in their home marina when there was a commotion a few slips away. The husband of the couple ran to investigate while the wife got the life ring off the stern of their boat. The husband saw that a woman had fallen, but before he could get to her, she stood up again, staggering, and then fell into the water. By the time he reached the scene, there was no sign of the woman—no bubbles, no ripples—and his immediate impulse was to jump in after her, but because of his Auxiliary training, he knew not to do that. Instead, when a small hand emerged from the surface, he was able to grab it, and with the help of the life ring and another nearby boater, they were able to pull the woman out of the water. When the paramedics arrived, it was determined that the woman was---guess what?--VERY intoxicated.   

   These were all very different incidents, but they all have a common thread. In each case, an Auxiliarist responded promptly to an emergency, and performed effectively--and perhaps save a life--because of the training received as an Auxiliarist. We have a number of vessel examiners in our flotilla, and boat crew members and coxswains, and others who give out safety information at public events, and while MOST of the time—fortunately—there’s no emergency involved, we need to remember that the training we receive as Auxiliarists may some day save a life. And that’s what we’re all all about.

Stephen Salmon, SO-OP