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Sanibel Emergency Response Assistance Team responds to water emergencies

By Staff | May 4, 2010

The Sanibel-Captiva Sail & Power Squadron is one of the first squadrons in the U.S. Power Squadron to have a volunteer team of members who are trained to respond to water emergencies when requested by the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, Sanibel Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies.

The Sanibel Emergency Response Assistance Team (SERAT) debuted in 2006. SERAT captains, who use their own boats, have completed advanced educational courses offered by the Power Squadron and CPR and AED training by Sanibel Fire & Rescue. Additional SERAT instruction included search patterns, on water rescue techniques, VHF communications and knowledge of local waters.

SERAT members have assisted in the following water related missions:

Search for missing divers six miles offshore

Assistance with the MedStar helicopter crash off North Captiva

Assist Sanibel Police with perimeter security for a plane crash near Blind Pass

Search for a missing swimmer off North Captiva

Perimeter control for 2009 open water festival off Fort Myers Beach

Lee County Marine Emergency Response Team drills

Blind Pass rescue training with Sanibel Fire & Rescue District and Captiva Fire & Rescue

Fourth of July fireworks patrol with Sanibel Police Department

Emergency water rescue drills in Pine Island Sound with Sanibel Fire & Rescue District and Sanibel Police Department.

In addition, SERAT members also provided basic information to three shifts of Sanibel Fire & Rescue personnel. Classroom topics included introduction to on-water search and rescue, charting, navigation, rules of the “road,” knots, adverse conditions and trailering. On-water topics included pre-launch checkout, equipment check, basic boat handling, high speed turns, engine control, maneuvering with disabled steering and docking.

SERAT members are Jim Strothers, team leader; boat captains: Chap Vail, Ronn Downey, Bill Jennings, Bill Helfers, Lauren Coile, Robert Allen, Carol Allen, Marc Rowe, Bob Perlstein, Paul Robinson, Ed Harwell, Ed Mitchell, Dave Raven, John Topp, Mike Neal, Yvonne Neal and Lee Muehlmann. Crew members are John Carney, Cathy Gerasin, Fran Beaudoin-Blakely, Marilyn Helfers, John Plumb, Roger Heider and David Ross. Auxiliary members are Beverly Strothers, Charles LeGette and Bruce Balas.

For more information about SERAT, contact team leader Jim Strothers at 395-1856 or send an e-mail to chngsnattitudes@gmail.com.

SERAT captains find ‘missing’ boater in 45 minutes

“A white boat is missing somewhere between the Causeway and the northern end of Pine Island Sound, and we need to find it,” Sanibel Emergency Response Assistant Team (SERAT) leader Jim Strothers told four SERAT captains.

Four SERAT vessels participated in a drill to locate the “missing” boat. SERAT Chap Vail provided the “victim” boat. He selected where to locate his boat for the drill.

All SERAT vessels were instructed to rally at marker 11A in the ICW (Intercoastal Waterway) to receive further search instructions. SERAT 9 was told to check boats in the area southeast of St. James City and the canal entrances in the area because there were white boats in the area.

During the drill, SERAT 16 was directed to the Tarpon Bay area, where a large number of white boats could be seen. SERAT 10 was instructed to check the white boats on the south side of York Island.

SERAT 16 reported the search of his area did not the locate the missing boat. He was told to continue north into the McIntyre Creek area because there were numerous white boats in the area.

SERAT 10 didn’t locate the boat at York Island and was told to check the area behind Chino Island. SERAT 10 found the “missing” boat behind Chino Island, only 45 minutes from the beginning of the search.

All SERAT vessels reported to that area to see if the boater needed further assistance.

SERAT members participating in the drill included:

SERAT 1 – Jim Strothers, captain, and Roger Heider, crew

SERAT 9 – Bill Helfers, captain, and Marilyn Helfers, crew

SERAT 10 – Lauren Coile, captain, and Lorraine Mazzucco, crew

SERAT 16 – Paul Robinson, captain, and John Carney, crew

SERAT is a unit of the Sanibel-Captiva Sail & Power Squadron. For more information about SERAT, contact Jim Strothers at 395-1856 or by e-mail at chngsnattitudes@gmail.com.