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Sanibel’s water rescue team goes national

By Staff | Oct 3, 2011

Members of the Sanibel Emergency Response Assistance Team (SERAT) provided detailed information to 25 Districts of the United States Power Squadron (U.S.P.S.) on how to start their own Squadron Emergency Response Assistance Team at their recent meeting in Greensboro, N.C. Pictured from left are SERAT members Bill Helfers, Lauren Coile and Mike Neal, who explained the program to U.S.P.S. district representatives.

Sanibel’s Emergency Response Assistance Team (SERAT), a unit of the Sanibel-Captiva Sail & Power Squadron, is going national.

SERAT’s mission is to provide a team of qualified and experienced boaters with knowledge of local waters to render assistance with water rescues, water search and rescue, water related patrols and securing an area in the event of a water related emergency.

In September, the SERAT program was presented to the United States Power Squadron’s National Governing Board at their meeting in Greensboro, N.C. The SERAT program was previously endorsed by the USPS National Board of Directors in January 2011.

A planning committee consisting of Capt. Tim Barrett of the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District and Power Squadron members Jim Strothers, Mike Neal, Bill Helfers and Lauren Coile developed material for the September presentation. Bev Strothers assisted in preparing the material.

USPS Squadron members from 25 of the 33 Districts attending the Greensboro meeting received portfolios. Each portfolio contained a CD of a PowerPoint presentation of the SERAT program, a history of SERAT, the benefits of SERAT, how to start a SERAT program, frequently asked questions about the program and an order form to receive a copy of the SERAT manual. The manual defines organizational structure, roles, responsibilities and procedures.

National Power Squadron members at the Greensboro meeting also attended a Power Point presentation by Mike Neal followed by a question and answer session.

SERAT annually receives about 35 emergency calls which have included vessels in distress, drowning, security patrols, plane crash and helicopter crash.

How SERAT began

Approximately nine years ago at a Squadron Safe Boating Course, Capt. Tim Barrett of the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District approached course instructor Jim Strothers with a concern. What if there was a plane crash in our area and what types of resources are available.

After many years of planning by members of the Sanibel-Captiva Sail & Power Squadron, along with the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District, SERAT was officially presented to the public in September 2005 as the Sanibel Emergency Response Assistance Team.

Since its beginning, the dedicated volunteer members of the Team have developed a highly organized response unit.

SERAT is a member of the Lee County Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT), has participated in multiple MERT drills, received CPR/AED training from Sanibel Fire & Rescue, provided navigational and boat handling instruction to Sanibel Fire and Police Departments, and became a partner of the City of Sanibel Emergency Management Team.

For more information about SERAT, contact Jim Strothers via e-mail at serat@sanibelcaptivasps.org.