Coast Guard to participate in Beach Survival Challenge, conduct helicopter rescue demonstration

9th Coast Guard District NewsGRAND HAVEN, Mich. – Personnel at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, headquartered in Milwaukee, will participate in the 2011 Beach Survival Challenge, scheduled to be held Saturday at 9 a.m. at Grand Haven State Park.

The Eighth Annual Beach Survival Challenge is administered by the Great Lakes Beach and Pier Safety Task Force, a collaborative effort between multiple agencies and organizations from Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. It represents a comprehensive approach to addressing a lack of education and understanding of rip currents and the other dangers that are present on the Great Lakes.

Coast Guard volunteers will help run Beach Survival Challenge events, including the obstacle course that tests knowledge of rip currents and hypothermia.

In addition to the helicopter search and rescue demonstration in Lake Michigan scheduled for noon, Capt. Matthew Sibley, the new commander of Sector Lake Michigan, will briefly address the public regarding the Coast Guard’s role and how individuals can partner with the Coast Guard to protect themselves and others.

Sibley, who took command of Sector Lake Michigan on Tuesday, comes to Milwaukee from Washington, D.C., where he previously served as military assistant to the secretary of homeland security.

Responsible for protecting 1,640 miles of coastline and hundreds of miles of inland rivers, Sector Lake Michigan’s Milwaukee base is responsible for 21 field units in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. In 2010, Sector Lake Michigan crews saved 128 lives during 1,173 search and rescue missions.

With more than 740 active-duty and reserve military members and civilian employees, the commander of Sector Lake Michigan is responsible for all Coast Guard missions, including port safety and security, search and rescue, law enforcement, aids to navigation, waterways management, marine environmental protection and commercial vessel safety.

The Coast Guard is a multi-mission, maritime, military service and is part of the Department of Homeland Security. It is unique among federal agencies in that it is at all times an armed service, while also a humanitarian, regulatory, law enforcement, environmental, and emergency management agency.

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