The United States coastguard is working to improve techniques in one of the most dangerous types of sea rescue--saving crewmen from boats aground in heavy surf.
SV Rescue helicopter flying overhead
CU Instructor talking over radio to rescue boat
GV Helicopter hovering over rescue boat
SV Line being lowered onto boat from helicopter
SV Rescue basket hanging from helicopter
CU Member of rescue team on boat, as helicopter hovers overhead
SV large wave hitting rescue boat
GV Rockey coastline PAN TO Boat going through wave
SV Skipper talking to crew
CU skipper at controls as crew holds on through waves
GV Wave approaching boat and boat riding over top
CU Skipper at controls as crew holds on (3 shots)
GV Wave hitting rescue boat broadside on boat riding through other waves
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Background: The United States coastguard is working to improve techniques in one of the most dangerous types of sea rescue--saving crewmen from boats aground in heavy surf. A particularly nasty stretch of water near Cape Disappointment off the coast of Washington State is the proving ground for the coastguard's rough water training school.
SYNOPSIS: Each year along the coastline from northern California to southern Alaska, coastguard boast and helicopters deal with some eight-hundred emergency calls.
The rescue teams practice several days a week. The response time is critical. In these cold pacific waters an accident victim would be unlikely to survive more than half an hour without a wetsuit.
The coastline here is one of the most dangerous in the United States. Where the Columbia River meets the Pacific, swells as high as 35 feet (10 metres) can spring up without warning.
At times the training cab be as dangerous as an actual rescue. Two years ago, three trainee crewmen died when their boat capsized in the surf.
The rescue boat is a 43 foot (13 metres) craft specially designed for running close in shore in heavy swells. It just cuts down the risks a little. As soon as they begin the training course, students learn the coastguard school's motto. It sums up the rescue missions ahead..."You have to go out on the waters, but you don't have to come back".