Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 3:24 am | Fair 57º


Local News

Water-Rescue Exercise Lures Spectators at Santa Barbara Harbor

The U.S. Coast Guard, Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol and Santa Barbara Fire Department team up for training drill

Local authorities hosted a water-rescue training exercise Tuesday to better prepare emergency personnel and to highlight water safety in general at the start of National Safe Boating Week.

It didn’t take long for folks walking past the Santa Barbara Harbor to turn into spectators of the multi-agency training demonstration, which featured a low-flying U.S. Coast Guard helicopter dropping divers and making mock rescue lifts from waiting Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol boats.

The exercise was the first of its kind because it included the recently formed Santa Barbara Fire Department Water Rescue Team.

Fire Capt. Gary Pitney called Tuesday’s drill the “finale” of training for the team’s 18 members, who crowded onto three boats with Harbor Patrol personnel.

“We just saw more and more of a need,” Pitney said, referring to the team’s formation this past year. “Definitely a joint operation.”

A diver is
A diver is “rescued” from the water during a training exercise outside the Santa Barbara Harbor. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The first of the eight hours of training Tuesday included helicopter rescue scenarios, while the remaining hours were meant to teach the local agencies how to better communicate during emergency situations.

“We need to work together as we would in real life,” Harbor Patrol Supervisor Steve McCullough told Noozhawk. “Safety is the critical thing in all of these. Everybody has a job to do. We thought this was a good time to have that training.”

With holiday weekends approaching, McCullough said law enforcement officials want to remind people to wear life jackets, take courses before going out boating, let other people know float plans ahead of time, and never drink and drive boats.

Drunken boaters account for 16 percent of all boating fatalities nationwide, according to information on the city’s website.

McCullough said some boaters don’t understand that driving on the water is the same as on the road.

“The laws are the same,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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