Eckerd College Search and Rescue (EC-SAR) recently hosted attendees of the International Boating and Water Safety Summit (IBWSS).
The IBWSS is the premier event for training, education, awareness, meeting, and networking for professionals, volun- teers, and anyone involved in boating and water safety. There were participants from the U.S. and Canada and as far away as New Zealand and Japan.
Ryan Dilkey, Assistant Director of Waterfront kicked off the session with an overview of the program, the nation’s only collegiate maritime rescue organization. They function alongside the Coast Guard, in place of the Coast Guard and are part of the 911 dis- patch system for Pinellas County with the memorandums of understanding with Hillsboro and Manatee County.
“We cover over 600 nautical square miles of water,” Dilkey told the group. “We’re embedded in Coast Guard sector of St. Petersburg, the highest area of activity in District 7 which has the highest area of activity in the Coast Guard.”
After the briefing participants proceeded to one of four activities on the docks which included a simulation of self-rescue and emergency procedures, an emergency simulation for rescue techniques involving kayakers and paddleboarders, a rescue simulation for swimmers or people who have fallen overboard; and marine firefighting target practice using a rescue boat equipped with a pump.
“We are educating people in the industry that deal with everything from lifejacket wear and regulations to boat building regulations to legislation through Congress–anything and everything with regards to water safety,” says Dilkey in response to a question. “We were asked by the National Safe Boating Council to provide this day of water activities to learn about water search and rescue so they can take some of the techniques we use back to their own programs.
Many of the EC-SAR contingent providing the training were students like Samantha Cady. The Wisconsin native is a freshman at Eckerd studying psychology. “I was really interested in the program when I learned about it in August,” she says. I absolutely love it. Students are on duty for 24 hours with 48 hours off. They have to be able to get to the waterfront within five minutes for emergency response, participate in weekly training and patrols, and
maintain the fleet of four boats.
To learn more go to www.eckerd.edu.