Kayakers safety gear enables quick Coast Guard rescue

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine – A Newcastle, Maine, man is home safe today because of survival equipment he carried with him while kayaking in the Sheepscot River, in Maine Sunday.

Robert Yarmey, of Newcastle, Maine, used a handheld radio to call the Coast Guard for help at 7:38 p.m., Sunday, when he was forced to swim to shore in 53-degree water after his kayak overturned near Reversing Falls in Sheepscot, Maine.

Once ashore, Yarmey informed the Sector Northern New England command center staff that he was handicapped and that he feared he was experiencing hypothermia. The command center staff continued to communicate with him on the radio while they reached out to the Newcastle Fire Department for help with the rescue since Coast Guard boats are too large to navigate through the Sheepscot River.

In addition to the radio, Yarmey was carrying a cell phone, a strobe light and a Personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, which when activated transmitted his GPS coordinates to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. He was also wearing a bright yellow life jacket.

“Having the proper safety equipment is what saved Mr. Yarmey’s life,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Joe Tallent, a search and rescue coordinator at Sector Northern New England. “The electronic devices he used to communicate that he was in distress proved crucial in helping responders find him.”

The Newcastle firemen saw Yarmey’s strobe light flashing in the distance and were able to locate him about 30 minutes after his initial call for help. They transported him to an ambulance where he was evaluated and released without any injuries.

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