ALAMEDA -- The United States Coast Guard, working in cooperation with the Alameda Fire Department, performed a search and rescue demonstration for the second-grade classes of three elementary schools -- Bay Farm, Earhart and Otis -- in the waters west of the Bay Farm Bridge.
Lt. Cmdr. Kristine Neeley acted as the primary organizer for the Nov. 11 demonstration. She and her husband, Drew Cheney, who served on active duty with the Coast Guard for 26 years, worked to bring the Coast Guard, schools, and fire department together for the special event.
"It shows the kids what the Coast Guard does -- that we work with other government agencies, and how we can all work together," Neeley said.
Neeley and Cheney helped to familiarize the students in the days before the demonstration with presentations about what the Coast Guard does during rescue operations.
Michael O'Neill, a teacher at Amelia Earhart Elementary, said the demonstration worked well with the lessons on community service he and his fellow teachers have been sharing with their students.
"It connects to our curriculum of community service with what our families are involved with, and what it actually looks like," O'Neill said.
He also spoke to the excitement his students had for the day's event.
"They're pretty jazzed," O'Neill said. "We're primed to see an exciting rescue."
The aircraft used in the demonstration was an MH-65D Dolphin Short Range Recovery helicopter. The helicopter is utilized in a variety of different Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement.
A safety boat from the Alameda Fire Department was on hand as well. Floating just south east of the intended rescue site, the boat was manned by Dominic Weaver, Eric Alianza, and Sam Yussim.
For the day's simulated mission, the rescue helicopter crossed over the Bay Farm Bridge from the east. Once it arrived at a point suitable for the demonstration, a dummy was dropped in to the ocean from the helicopter. The pilot and co-pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Harper Philips and Lt. Chris Courtney, respectively, then proceeded to circle the dummy, showing spectators how one would locate a person in a real rescue situation. Once their position was established, the pilot hovered approximately thirty feet above the water as the rescue swimmer was lowered by cable.
Aviation Survival Technician Petty Officer 2nd Class Ian Jobs performed the rescue for the day. Jobs waved vigorously to the crowd with both hands as he descended from the helicopter, eliciting cheers from the crowd of hundreds gathered to watch him work. In less than one minute, Jobs swam to the dummy, caught it in his arms and was reeled back in to the helicopter by way of the hoist cable.
The crowd applauded the success of the demonstration with enthusiasm, following the helicopter with shouts and clapping as it turned around to fly back toward Bay Farm Bridge.
Mary Scriven, a teacher at Frank Otis Elementary, said she was impressed with what the Coast Guard had to share. She said showing students what the Coast Guard does gives them new ways of looking at what their goals for life might be.
"When children are enlightened with information they've never had before," Scriven said, "it changes how they see the world."