July 1, 2013
Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue:
Always ready…WITH SLIDE SHOW
By IAN BISANTZ
you have ever been on the beach in the Rodanthe area any day of the
week between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., you have more than
likely seen the Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue Team patrol.
by co-captains Chet Bailey and Larry Grubbs, the Chicamacomico Banks
Water Rescue Team operates seven days a week and patrols the beaches
with a four-wheel-drive truck and personal watercraft, and they’re
ready for any emergencies that arise.
Lt. Ken Mason says that the team has to be ready to go at an instant.
scenario can change within seconds,” he said. “Most of the day, you can
just be driving the beaches and then multiple calls will come in. These
men and women have to be on their toes ready to jet.”
response time of anywhere from zero to 30 seconds, ready is exactly
what the team is. I had an opportunity to train with the team to really
see how they prepare themselves for this get-up-and-go mentality.
the week, the water rescue team has three days of training. Training
consists of various physical training and water rescue exercises. The
team members prepare themselves for all possible scenarios -- whether
the exercise is for a conscious or an unconscious victim. The
team works with the personal watercraft on a weekly basis in large and
small surf to understand how it handles in every situation.
currents can be strong and dangerous on the Outer Banks, so it’s very
important for the team to be comfortable, strong, and knowledgeable in
the surf. The team has various water exercises that include the use of
a rescue board, watercraft, and surf rescue board. The intensity of
these workouts is threat level as every team member is sprinting
through the sand or the water. Such a high intensity workout makes sure
each exercise simulates an actual event.
The team is able to
keep such high intensity because of its equally intense physical
training. The team members, before rescue training, engage in numerous
physical exercises. Planks, beach running, pushups, and even the
dreaded “Chinese” pushups are only a taste of the training these
members have to endure.
While training with the water rescue
team, the skill and focus that each individual member contributes
allows for the team to be a dynamic, well-tuned machine. Greg Midgett,
a team member and physical training leader, makes sure that everyone is
completing his or her exercises in and out of the water. Midgett not
only participates with the team but he sticks with the team. He is the
voice of encouragement that pushes every member until they can go no
more, and then pushes them more.
Other team members --
Officers Jeremy Carpenter, Dean Hutton, and Joanna Kowalska -- all work
with Greg equally in discussing rescue scenarios and tactics. Each
member brings his or her own unique skill and personality to the team.
While Carpenter offers veteran experience, team members Hutton and
Kowalska bring life to the squad through lively participation and fun,
Even though Midgett is a team leader through
the physical training, he listens to the advice of all his fellow
members. Communication across all levels of the team is important for
not only practice scenarios but for real emergency situations. When
planning for emergency situations, the team has to be ready for
anything to happen.
During one recent training session, that
is exactly what happened. When the personal watercraft malfunctioned,
the team immediately went on alert as Carpenter and Kowalska were stuck
out in the breakers. From the shore, team members Midgett and Hutton
Luckily, Carpenter was able to maneuver the
watercraft within the surf, close enough for the team to rescue.
Immediately the scenario became a mad dash to get the watercraft
beached and to a safe location out of the breakers. The entire team
surrounded the watercraft and hoisted it up to the beach safely within
a matter of seconds.
The Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue Team
is a highly trained unit that strives for the protection of everyone on
the Rodanthe beaches. They are paid for their work, but the team
operates almost solely from donations with some funding from Dare
County and Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire Department.
ocean can be dangerous, but visitors and islanders can swim a little
safer knowing that these men and women are out there patrolling the
The Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue is located at
milepost 39 ½ on Highway 12 in Rodanthe. If you would like to know
more, you can contact the Chicamacomico Banks Water Rescue at P.O. Box
125, Rodanthe, NC 27968 and make sure to dial 911 for any emergencies.
Feel free to go online and check out the site as well at http://cbfd.org/index.htm.
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