Honolulu-based U.S. Coast Guard rescue air crews deployed for Hurricane Gustav operations

HONOLULU – U.S. Coast Guard air crews from Air Station Barbers Point are preparing tonight to leave Monday, Sept. 1, for the Gulf states area to assist in emergency response as Hurricane Gustav threatens Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi.

Two HH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter air crews from the Barbers Point unit will be transported via C-130 search plane to the Gulf area at approximately 8 a.m. Monday.

“Barbers Point crews are prepared to stay for as long as we’re needed,” said Lt. Andrew Paszkiewicz, a C-130 pilot. “We are making sure we can still get the job done here at home in Hawaii while sending as many personnel as we can to the Gulf. Our priority is to be able to answer the call here in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific, while still supporting the response effort there.”

Coast Guard units nationwide are closely monitoring Gustav’s path and strength and a number of units are already mobilized and ready to assist. In the past 48 hours, the Coast Guard nationwide has activated 300 Coast Guard reservists to assist in recovery operations; activated four Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DRATs) trained and equipped for evacuating citizens from flooded areas; and, mobilized 32 search and rescue-capable helicopters.

In addition, three Coast Guard cutters have been diverted to support post-storm recovery operations.

“It is important to remember that Gustav is a major hurricane capable of causing fatalities or serious injuries to anyone caught in its path,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, chief of media relations for the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Rescue and assistance by the Coast Guard and other response agencies may be severely degraded or unavailable immediately before and during a devastating storm. Self-preservation by evacuation is critical when faced with a storm such as Gustav.”

Coast Guard units within the projected landfall of Hurricane Gustav are evacuating their personnel and families in advance of the storm, while simultaneously relocating key personnel to continuity of operations locations to maintain situational awareness, command and control, and to ensure a seamless transition from preparedness to response operations.

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