Civilians assist chopper in NW Point rescues

| 30/07/2018 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service

Private fishing vessel that helped three divers in distress back to shore on Sunday, 29 July

(CNS): The RCIPS helicopter crew was able to coordinate two sea rescues on Sunday afternoon off the coast of North West Point with the help from civilians on shore and at sea. At around 5:20pm yesterday the Air Operations Unit responded to the first call, in which a member of the public reported seeing a wave runner drifting offshore but said they had lost sight of the rider from land. Within ten minutes of deployment, the helicopter crew spotted the wave runner drifting west some two miles off the coast.

When the rider heard the helicopter, he began waving his arms to attract attention, just as two civilian wave runner riders were en route to help. The chopper crew was able to direct the riders to the precise location of the drifting wave runner, which had broken-down. Within 20 minutes of the report the runner was under tow and the rider was taken safely back to shore.

Within one minute of that rescue the chopper was alerted to a group of six divers who were in trouble, also off the coast of North West Point. The police helicopter was on scene within a minute and located all of the divers. Although they only around 200 yards offshore, they appeared to be caught in the current and seemed exhausted.

The divers waved at the helicopter, which was able to locate a nearby fishing vessel. The crew could not raise the vessel on marine radio but used a combination of the Skyshout PA system to attract attention and hand signals. As a result the boat was able to make its way to the divers and pick up those who were still struggling to get back to shore.

Police said three of them were able to swim back and all of the group reached the safety of the shore and no one was in need of medical treatment.

“Once again, the combination of a speedy response by the helicopter crew and critical assistance from civilians at the scene safely resolved two incidents that could have had a far worse result,” said Air Operations Unit Commander Steve Fitzgerald.  “This underscores again the necessity of having the proper equipment and safety procedures for all marine activities. Luckily in both incidents, people on shore were able to raise the alarm.”

The RCIPS thanked the civilians that assisted in both these incidents.

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Category: Local News, Police

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Marine Unit was probably on the other side of the island at that time. As you know, Sundays are pretty busy in the North Sound/Rum Point area.

    Also looking at the timeframe of the rescues and the fact that the civilian boats were already nearby at the time, it probably made more sense to enlist their help than to wait for another unit to deploy from some other location.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A. Not sure why you felt the need to reply with such vitriol to someone who is agreeing with you.

    B. The commenter was pointing out that Mr. Fitzgerald was referring to private civilian operators, not any arms of government departments or services. He was saying that members of the public need to have proper safety equipment when pursuing marine activities even for pleasure or recreation.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to ask the RCIPS what is going with their boats. Someone in the know said they only had wave runners last week. Where are they all?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Air Operations Unit Commander Steve Fitzgerald. “This underscores again the necessity of having the proper equipment and safety procedures for all marine activities. Luckily in both incidents, people on shore were able to raise the alarm.”

    Well said Sir, it’s a disgrace that the Marine arms of all services are being understaffed and I’ll equipped to do the basics of their tasks, let alone rescues. Perhaps they’ll listen to you, no one else can seem to make themselves heard.

    • Anonymous says:

      Although I agree with you I think he was actually meaning civilians not “Marine arms of all services”!

      • Anonymous says:

        Seriously, you needed to make that worthless point?
        All services on this island are civilian, we have no military. The word ‘arms’ means the various different arms of given departments of the civilian services.
        I can’t believe I’ve just had to explain that, but we’re in Cayman so stupid is as stupid does.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow! THAT is a great example of how things should work!
    That jetski rider must have been SO grateful.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Kudos to the RCIPS!

  7. Anonymous says:

    The currents at NW point can be very dangerous. I almost drowned there once. The government or Dart or maybe as a team should fence it off, pave it and build a bar so it will be of some good use to the people’s.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Let’s get this straight. The Marine Unit was no where to be seen on Sunday, the RIB and jet skis given to the Fire Dept are still sitting on their trailers, the helicopter isn’t equipped for water rescue, no one from Port Authority available to respond and the DOE weren’t even called to help.
    Is that true, are we really without any official marine cover on the busiest day of the week?
    Who’s enforcing the law, let alone ready to rescue swimmers, snorkellers, divers, wave runners or boats in distress.
    This is a national disgrace and someone in that self serving zoo they call government needs to wake up and spend the money needed, and damn quick before there’s a disaster that tourism will never recover from.

    • Anonymous says:

      Probably expect double time on a Sunday.

    • Anonymous says:

      Down boy!

    • Anonymous says:

      They’re saving taxpayers money by having civilians do their jobs tho!!

    • Ron Ebanks says:

      Anonymous 7:34pm , you have said it all to the point . I would also say that the government is a complete mess , they know how to create these departments and fund them with millions of dollars , but don’t know how to make sure that the departments function accordingly and be accountable. I suppose that is problem , you can’t expect the blind to lead the blind .
      But I would also say it’s a shame and disgrace that today there isn’t a good marine rescue operation in place to spring into action in a movements notice .

      In the area of north west point where this incident took place , is there any signs warning people of the strong currents that run in that area ? There should be.
      I have been in the water diving in that location , and you have to be a strong swimmer and know how to handle the situation and alway have your boat there .

    • Anonymous says:

      Let’s get this straight. There is no way that anyone can afford a 24-hour marine unit. If you want to pay for it, then tell your government to go get one. But you can’t have it both ways – you can’t underfund and understaff a unit and then scream and yell that they aren’t around 24/7 to answer the call every time someone goes diving where they shouldn’t or sets adrift on a wave runner. Trust me, no one is willing to pay for this and it won’t be any different when there is a fancy Coast Guard. And BTW, the helicopter can be somewhere within minutes, it is very different for a boat – much better to signal to a boat that is already nearby. And civilian captains also have an obligation to help out others on the open water when needed. So get off your high horse and start evaluating some things with FACTS rather than politically motivated rhetoric.

      • Anonymous says:

        You fool, the helo is only any good for spotting an incident and monitoring the scene. A Marine Unit should be properly staffed and equipped to ensure 24/7 coverage.
        The point being that on Sunday, the busiest day of the week for pleasure boating, there was not a solitary govt vessel on the water, anywhere.
        So being an intelligent man I did evaluate this serious lack of resource allocation and came to the conclusion, as the majority did, that it is totally unacceptable.
        Oh and BTW, the UK runs an entirety volunteer lifeboat and auxiliary Coastguard rescue service that is the envy of most sea going nations. So no lessons to learn from you genius as it costs the tax payer nothing.

  9. Anonymous says:

    it’s so good to he are some great news. Well done all concerned.


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