BALTIMORE — The Coast Guard, local partner agencies and a good Samaritan responded Wednesday to a mayday call from a boat with 23 people aboard near Bloodsworth Island.
Responding agencies included Maryland Natural Resources Police, Maryland State Police, Dorchester County EMS, and Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region received a digital selective calling alert of distress with the boat’s Maritime Mobile Service Identity number from a boater aboard a 40-foot boat.
DSC allows mariners to instantly send an automatically formatted distress alert to the Coast Guard with a GPS position, as long as the radio is connected to the GPS. It provides a one-touch button of distress notification, and if registered properly, will provide vessel and owner information allowing the Coast Guard to respond quickly and more efficiently.
The DSC notification was followed by a distress call over VHF-FM marine channel 16 stating, “Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is the motor vessel Karen N. We have sunk off of Bloodsworth Island.” Communications were lost soon after.
Sector Maryland-National Capital Region issued an urgent marine information broadcast and launched boat crews from Coast Guard Station Crisfield, while SYSCOM Helicopter Communications notified Maryland State Police and launched two helicopter crews.
A good Samaritan heard the UMIB, responded, arrived on scene and was able to get the 23 boaters aboard. Once all persons in the water were brought aboard, the good Samaritan transported them to Wingate and transferred them to awaiting EMS personnel.
“As soon as we received the DSC alert we knew their exact position,” said Lt j.g. Issac Yates, a command duty officer at the MD-NCR command center. “All 23 persons in the water were wearing their life preservers. That greatly enhanced their survivability.”
EMS personnel determined one person was in need of an airlift to Peninsula Regional Medical Center.
Other injured personnel were transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center via ambulance.
“Mariners will often have a radio with DSC capability, but don’t register it with MMSI or have it connected to their GPS,” added Lt. Cmdr. Sara Wallace, search and rescue mission coordinator at the MD-NCR command center. “The maritime mobile service identity, better known as MMSI, is like a phone number with emergency information encoded into it. When the Coast Guard receives a DSC alert without this data we have very little information to help us narrow down our search area. Mariners can help us find them faster if they ensure they have their radio connected to the GPS with an MMSI number.”
For more information on how to register for an MMSI, click the following link, http://ift.tt/1Ppm1VG