Training Day: Air Station Savannah

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Savannah – Members of the U.S. Coast Guard have, throughout the service’s history, defined the meaning of the motto “Semper Paratus” through their bravery and perseverance. Semper Paratus, Latin for “always ready”, is fitting for the service whose members always respond to calls for help.

One main tenant of being “always ready” involves preparation. One must be fit, well educated and well trained to respond to any calls that may come in. In order to maintain readiness, aircrew members, as well as other personnel at Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Georgia, recently completed a series of survival training exercises, known as wet drills.

Personnel from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, in Savannah, Ga., practice water survival techniques Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, during a training session. Throughout the training, the entire unit participated in learning the proper use of visual distress signals as well as participating in water survival while dressed in flight suits. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Personnel from Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, in Savannah, Ga., practice water survival techniques Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014, during a training session. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The wet drills conducted by Air Station Savannah involve practicing the use of Coast Guard survival equipment. One portion of the training involved an instructional session on the use of visual distress signals. Groups of eight members each went to several Coast Guard stations to practice how to use various signals including flares and signal smoke.

The participants involved in the training were given instruction on the proper use of flares, smoke signals and signal mirrors. They also donned flight suits with emergency flotation vests and practiced swimming 100 yards to a raft. Once members got to the raft, they were given the task to right it, locate survival equipment held in compartments aboard the raft and discuss survival best practices. To maximize the effect, the training was conducted on the north coast of Tybee Island.

“This training is crucial to our aircrews’ safety, and the fact that we were able to hold this year’s event in the ocean off of Tybee Island added a level of realism that we simply cannot replicate in a pool or a lake,” said Cmdr. John Rivers, the commanding officer of Air Station Savannah.

One of the other reasons for holding the training in a real-world environment was to have the “Coasties” experience what it is like to be in a survival situation. Despite the Coast Guard’s reputation for rescuing survivors and reuniting them with loved ones, accidents can occur during a mission. Coast Guard aircraft and boats are vulnerable and can malfunction, possibly placing crewmembers in need of rescue.

“Not only is it important for us to be ready, should we find ourselves in a survival situation, but it also helps us understand exactly what the individuals for whom we’re searching might be going through,” said Lt. j.g. Alex Johns, a pilot with the Air Station Savannah.

Equipment and great manpower are not enough in the world of maritime rescue. Education, training and practice are what help build a military unit into an effective force. Coast Guardsmen throughout the nation train every day in all mission areas in order to provide the American public exceptional service, exemplifying their famous motto: Semper Paratus.

Click the photo for more from the day..

 

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