News: Busy weekend for Coast Guard highlights agency partnerships
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A busy weekend for the Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command center demonstrated just how valuable it is for the Coast Guard to maintain strong relationships with its partner agencies.
From pollution response to law enforcement, joint operations between the Coast Guard and other federal, state and local agencies are a fairly common occurrence, but the same can said for search and rescue. During the weekend of June 6-8, five local, state and federal agencies assisted Coast Guard personnel in Kodiak and Anchorage in rescuing a total of four people.
“Teamwork is essential to everything we do in the Coast Guard,” said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Sector Anchorage. “That reliance on clear communication and concentrated effort extends to the partnerships we share with local law enforcement, environmental protection groups and our fellow military branches among other agencies.”
The Coast Guard, Alaska State Troopers, Anchorage Fire Department and Army Corps of Engineers came together to rescue three people from a sinking 16-foot riverboat in Cook Inlet Saturday while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Kodiak Police Department worked with a Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak and watchstanders at the Sector Anchorage command center to rescue a man aboard a disabled and drifting 20-foot fishing vessel near Anton Larsen Bay Sunday. No one agency can be everywhere at all times, so having the assistance of so many trusted partners is often vital to a successful mission.
“Alaska is a vast and challenging place to work, and we rely on our agency partners as much as they rely on us,” said Megan Peters, public information officer, Alaska State Troopers. “It’s our job to protect the people of Alaska, and pooling our resources and working together is how we get the job done.”
Whether for search and rescue or pollution response cases, the Coast Guard and its partner agencies often prepare through the use of joint training exercises such as the Alaska Shield 2014 exercise conducted in March and April. Exercises like Alaska Shield 2014 give these agencies familiarity with each others’ procedures and techniques, but any incident can present unique obstacles and it’s up to the Coast Guard and other responders to rely on their experience and faith in each other to accomplish their mission.
“The Coast Guard is fortunate to have partners like the Anchorage Fire Department, Kodiak Police Department, NOAA, Army Corps of Engineers and Alaska State Troopers backing us up,” said Cmdr. Shawn Decker, chief of response, Sector Anchorage. “The bonds we forge through conducting training and operations ensure the success of our missions and ‘it’s all hands on deck’ when lives and property are at risk.”