A+lantic City makes the grade for boating safety

by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ann Marie Gorden)

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The crew of Station Atlantic City has been selected to receive the 5th District Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) Unit award for 2007 for their exceptional service and contributions in promoting boating safety.

Station Atlantic City conducted 1,091 boardings last year, resulting in 75 warnings, 96 violations, nine terminations, three boating under the influence violations and one negligent operation, representing a 245 percent increase from the previous year.

Two years ago, Lt. Jason Ingram, commanding officer of Station Atlantic City, came into command with an average of 250 boardings a year.

During his first year, Ingram increased boardings to 444 and the following year to 1,091. “I felt one way to identify problems was to increase boardings,” Ingram said.

As a result of the increased boardings, Station Atlantic City has seen a decrease in search and rescue cases.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Dave Malia, says the Coast Guard conducts boardings to educate. “We go in, check for life jackets and make sure there is enough for each person on the boat and they fit properly,” Malia said. It is also important boats have a life ring visible and easily accessible.

“It’s important because if someone were to fall overboard, you will be able to keep your eyes on them instead of bending over, loosing contact,” Malia said.

Along with educating the public about boating safety, Station Atlantic City has worked with headquarters to improve boating safety techniques. Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Milcetich worked with the Coast Guard Auxiliary to purchase whistles which were given out instead of violations for boaters without a sound-producing device.

“I went to Party City, purchased 30 whistles and attached them to a Coast Guard lanyard along with a safety message to give out,” Milcetich said. “By the end of the season, all 30 whistles were given out.” The idea has helped to further educate the public about boating safety.

Milcetich also worked with Coast Guard computer engineers to remove the discontinued Boating Safety Hotline number from PDA boarding receipts and replace it with http://www.uscgboating.org/.

“I knew the website existed, and I started to scratch out the number and handwrite the website on the receipt before it was approved in June 2007 through headquarters.”

Station Atlantic City is also being recognized on their outreach efforts to the public about boating safety. Station Atlantic City held the New Jersey State Boating Safety Class taught by Coast Guard Auxiliary at their facilities 32 times, educating 387 boaters throughout the year. Lt. Ingram also took part and spoke at the beginning of the class stressing the importance of boating safety.

Station Atlantic City also attended more than 20 marine events, parades, boat shows and public gatherings, including the popular Atlantic City Airshow to aid in public outreach about boating safety. The two-day air show drew in about half a million spectators and about 500 recreational boaters where members of Station Atlantic City were available to answer any boating safety questions.

Station Atlantic City has taken boating safety to a different level.

“During boardings we don’t rush, we ask for suggestions and we take everything seriously,” Milcetich said. “The public has gained a new respect for boardings. Since I’ve been in New Jersey, I’ve had people happy with boardings” Milcetich continued to say how gratifying it is when the public thanks him and tells him how much they have learned about boating safety from the Coast Guard.

Station Atlantic City is continuing to reach out to educate the public and stress the importance of boating safety.

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