Coast Guard rescues woman on grounded pontoon boat in Green Bay

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsCLEVELAND — A Coast Guard rescue aircrew hoisted a woman to safety from a pontoon boat Tuesday night after a friend reported her overdue.

A radio watchstander at Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay, Wis., received a phone call from a man, reporting that his friend had called him reporting that the 22-foot pontoon boat she was on had run aground. According to the reporting source, the woman said she would try to push the boat off the shoal and call back, but he was no longer able to reach her via cell phone.

The woman was scheduled to travel from Point Sable to South Bay Marina in Green Bay, Wis.

Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, Milwaukee, issued an urgent marine information broadcast over VHF-FM channel 16 marine radio to alert boaters in the area of the search for the woman.

A rescue boatcrew aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium launched from Station Sturgeon Bay, and a rescue aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter launched from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich.

A rescue boatcrew aboard a patrol boat from Brown County Department of Natural Resources also aided in the search for the missing woman.

The rescue aircrew located the woman on the pontoon boat in Willow Shoal, in the southwestern area of Green Bay, where the vessel had run aground, and notified the rescue boatcrews.

The RB-M crew was unable to assist the woman due to shallow water. The aircrew’s rescue swimmer was lowered to assess the woman’s condition. She was reported to be uninjured but showed signs of hypothermia. The woman was then hoisted into the helicopter and transported to Brown County Airport in Green Bay.

The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters complete a “Float Plan.” Always notify family and friends where you are going and when you expect to be back — and stick to the plan. Be sure to notify them when plans change. Click here for more information and an example of a float plan.

“Boaters should carry all required and recommended safety gear, such as visual distress signals, and sound producing devices,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Anthony Olean, a rescue crewmember at Station Sturgeon Bay.

“Also recommended are a registered personal locator beacon and a VHF-FM marine radio, to alert the Coast Guard and local safety agencies of potential distress.”

In addition, the Coast Guard reminds mariners that air and water temperatures continue to decrease, so the risks of hypothermia still exist. Boaters need to always be cautious of the risks of drowning and hypothermia.

In fact, someone in cold water may have only minutes of functional movement before he loses the effective use of fingers, arms and legs. At this point, a victim who is not wearing a life jacket will likely drown because he can no longer tread water and remain afloat.

Even with a Coast Guard-approved life jacket, hypothermia is a threat to survival once someone is exposed to cold water. The body may lose heat 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. When recreating outdoors, mariners should dress for the water temperature — not the air temperature.

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