BOURNE (CBS) – When the call goes out for someone on the water in distress, the U.S. Coast Guard is ready for whatever comes their way.
Each rescue wouldn’t be possible without thousands of hours of training.READ MORE: Woman Killed In Shooting Near Roslindale Pharmacy
Recently WBZ-TV meteorologist Jacob Wycoff had the chance to tag along with the Coast Guard out of the Cape Cod Canal Station.
The Cape Cod Canal Station is one of the 30 small boat stations spread across the northeast, covering from Maine to New Jersey.
Their area of responsibility covers the southern part of Cape Cod Bay, into the canal over to Buzzards Bay.
The hour-long trip to Buzzards Bay through the canal takes us under the Sagamore and Bourne bridges at a snail’s pace – just five knots. Much like law enforcement on land, the Coast Guard has to follow the posted speed limit when not responding to an emergency.
Petty Officer Sean Driscoll says when heading to a call, the twin Detroit engines on their 45-foot response boat can crank their speed to 40 knots. Then trip would then take about five minutes.
“You get the adrenaline, blood gets pumping, we do what we gotta do to the job done safely,” Petty Officer Jason Cross said.
Most Coast Guard offices conduct various training evolutions about 180 days a year. These “on the water” dry runs prepare each crew for anything, from routine calls to the unexpected. The obvious goal is to create a symbiotic muscle-memory through the team.
Driscoll added, “no matter the consequences, we are ready to go out and save someone.”
While conducting solo exercises is important, Cross said “it’s good for us who work on the water to work with the ones in the air. It’s probably one of the coolest things we do.”
Where the Coast Guard Cape Cod Canal has about 520 sq. miles to cover, the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and HC-144 fixed wing aircraft out of Air Station Cape Cod cover about 90,000 square nautical miles.READ MORE: Are Masks Back In Massachusetts? Officials Weigh A Mandate Following CDC Guidance
Major Peter Wright, a commander with the Royal Canadian Air Force who is currently serving the U.S. Coast Guard through an exchange program said, “There are times we have a textbook mission, there are other times, when your best training day didn’t prepare you for what you’re about to face.”
The day WBZ-TV’s Jacob Wycoff joined the team, the weather conditions were perfect; blue skies and sunshine. A small craft advisory was in place as waves churned up the water just enough to make my newly found sea legs a bit shaky.
“We typically go out in some pretty awful conditions. We’ll fly 50-60 knot winds, sea states 30-40 feet. Conditions that you’d never really find yourself in unless you had a reason to be there,” Major Wright said.
While on site with the boat team, the air crew runs through multiple drills, first dropping and retrieving the rescue basket. Next they throw out the floating dummy, jumping out of the helicopter to recover it.
Signing up to be a rescue swimmer is a calling, largely considered to be one of the toughest jobs in the Coast Guard, with a dropout rate of about 70%.
“Rescue swimmer training never stops. You’re always learning,” aviation survival technician Clayton Maidlow said.
Maidlow said he became a rescue swimmer because it was a good mix of doing something active and a little crazy.
He added, “Heck, it’s a lot of fun to jump out of the helicopter into little rollers out there.”
Despite the rigorous preparation of the air and sea crews, each mission’s success is never guaranteed.
While not every outcome is perfect or good, it’s just for the one time that it is that makes it worthwhile, Wright said.MORE NEWS: Car Crashes Into Richardson's Ice Cream Shop In Middleton
So if you’re in the water or setting sail, know the Coast Guard is standing by, geared up and eager to help. They’re living up to their motto “semper paratus” — always ready.