Saturday, July 17, 2010

Navy, Coast Guard Promote Summer Water Safety

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

HONOLULU (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard joined together to promote summer water safety at local television station KHON2 in Honolulu July 15.

Lt. Jennifer Hall, diving and undersea medical officer for Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1, and Coast Guard Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Garrett Hamilton offered advice and tips for people engaging in water activities.

During the interview, Hamilton talked about the importance of wearing life jackets while being aboard a boat.

"It is always safe and recommended to wear a life jacket the moment you get aboard a boat. Life jackets don't work if you don't wear them," Hamilton said. "Also, as per federal regulation, anyone aboard a boat who is 12 years or younger must wear a life jacket at all times."

Hall noted that while diving and snorkeling are some of the more popular water activities in Hawaii, people should make sure they have proper equipment and have received training.

"If you want to become dive certified, take a course that will provide classroom training, pool in-water training and open-water dive training. The course should provide a good deal of in-water training," said Hall. "You should also make sure you are familiar with your dive equipment and ensure it is in good working order, including the maintenance and safety checks."

Hamilton spoke about the importance of being sober while operating a boat.

"Boating under the influence can have the same consequences as driving under the influence," said Hamilton. "Intoxication can impair your judgment while operating a vessel, and just like driving, boat collisions can happen on the water."

Hall also talked about the significance of having a plan when taking part in diving and snorkeling activities.

"The Navy is a big proponent of first having a plan and then adhering to the plan. We always say as divers, 'plan the dive and dive the plan,'" said Hall. "I always tell our Sailors that they should feel their best while in the water. If there's any doubt or concern physically or with safety, then you should not put yourself at risk."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 3,500 unintentional drownings occur in the United States each year, and for every one drowning victim, there are up to five non-fatal drowning events which can result in lifelong complications, including significant brain damage. In addition, almost 500 die from other boating-related incidents.

US Ships Aid Romanian Sailor At Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rachel McMarr, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- The USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19) will return a Romanian Sailor to his ship, the Liberian-flagged motor vessel (M/V) Antonis A, July 16 after Mesa Verde's medical team treated him for severe dehydration.

The Romanian Sailor became ill while his ship was operating in the northern Red Sea, which prompted the master-of-the-vessel to issue a medical distress call to guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) over bridge-to-bridge communications at about 1:30 a.m.

San Jacinto dispatched a search and rescue (SAR) team in a SH-60 Seahawk helicopter, the Mayport, Fla.-based "Proud Warrior," to pick up the ailing man and transport him to nearby Mesa Verde, which has a large on board medical and trauma facility.

Upon the SAR team's arrival, the Mesa Verde medical team treated the Sailor and determined he was suffering from severe dehydration.

Mesa Verde and San Jacinto are both transiting the Red Sea to return to their homeport in Norfolk having completed a successful deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Active Duty Service Members Help San Diego-Area Veterans During Stand Down 2010

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) James R. Evans, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Dozens of San Diego's homeless veterans got a helping hand from active duty service members July 16-18 during the Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) Stand Down 2010.

Stand Down is an annual three-day event in which homeless veterans and their families can receive free services including health care, substance abuse counseling, legal and employment assistance and food and clothing distribution.

As in years past, the event was held in a tent city erected by active duty military volunteers on San Diego High School's athletic field.

"One of the main goals of Stand Down is to take care of some of the physical needs of the veterans who are homeless because it's very difficult being on the street," said Dr. Jon Nachison, Stand Down's director.

"There are a lot of medical issues, and we want to be able to take care of those people, give them some clothing and fill their bellies. I also want to have an effect on people's spirit, and I think of Stand Down as kind of like boot camp for the spirit," said Nachison.

Nachison said that by providing such basic services and a sense of community, Stand Down gives homeless veterans the tools they need to begin the process of getting off the streets.

He estimated that by the end of the weekend, close to 3,000 volunteers will have donated their time to helping up to 1,000 homeless veterans accomplish that goal. Many of those volunteers are active duty service members from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.

"The active duty participation is invaluable," said Nachison. "Everything you see here was set up by active duty, mostly Marines and Seabees who helped set up the tents."

For those Sailors and Marines who volunteer, Nachison said Stand Down can be a learning experience.

"If you look across the America, one third of our homeless are military veterans," said Nachison. "As a person on active duty, you think, 'I'm going to get out and everything is going to be fine, but you don't know that. Coming here can be like a wake-up call. We all have to take care of each other."

Among the camouflage netting and olive green tents, Sailors and Marines in uniform could be seen providing security, conducting health screenings and assisting with legal documents for veterans in the homeless and family court areas.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Ian Polage, assigned to Navy Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), was one of several Sailors working in NMCSD's health clinic performing triage and doing initial health screenings for sick call. Polage said he volunteered because he would want someone to do the same for him.

"I want someone to take care of me when I'm old if I need this kind of help. These people served their country, so this is the least we can do," said Polage.

One of the patients he treated was Edward Patterson, a Marine Corps veteran.

"This is really good from the point of view of people in the streets," said Patterson. "The vets are getting care from the new kids, and I think it's much needed. It's a good time for us to come in off the streets."