MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
While going through their daily routines, a search and rescue crew with Marine Transport Squadron 1 got a call May 20 to aid a boater stranded approximately three miles off the coast of Atlantic Beach.
Within a few minutes, the crew fired up their HH-46E Sea Knight and were ready to respond.
As they visually located the vessel from inside the aircraft, they hoisted down rescue swimmer Lance Cpl. Benjamin D. Bargar into water to retrieve the boater who was weak from heat stroke and dehydration. After hoisting the victim into the aircraft, the crew transported him to Carteret Hospital to be treated.
Similar scenarios can occur any time, any place. In preparation for such real-life scenarios, Marines and Sailors with VMR-1 train to rescue stranded casualties.
A search and rescue crew with the squadron conducted hoisting training in Hobucken, N.C., to recieve their qualifications Oct. 24, with a SAR team and utility boat from Coast Guard Station Hobucken.
For the Marines and Sailor on the flight, the training served as an opportunity to improve their proficiency and work with the Coast Guardsmen they often work with to accomplish their mission of saving lives.
“At anytime we have to be prepared to rescue people on boats,” said Bargar. “This training is vital because it exposes us to things we may encounter and helps us stay on top of our game. In case of an emergency, we need to be able to perform under pressure.”
Although the techniques rehearsed during the flight were just for practice, the members aboard the aircraft performed as though it were the real deal. Bargar, who has been a rescue swimmer for more than a year, also received search and rescue crew chief qualifications during the training.
To pass his evaluation, Bargar had to execute hoisting techniques with personnel and gear in a safe manner.
While training, Bargar said the only thing going through his mind was making sure everything went smoothly, especially for the pilots who often have a hard time seeing what is happening below the aircraft.
Becoming a SAR crew chief and being a rescue swimmer is important to Bargar because he wants to be a well-rounded asset to his unit.
“At anytime I can be put into any situation because I will know how to handle it,” he said.
Also receiving SAR qualifications was Seaman Justin M. Jones, a search and rescue medical technician trainee.
After hoisting down into the Coast Guard’s utility boat, Jones practiced working with different types of search and rescue equipment from aboard the vessel.
Jones said his training complemented Bargar’s perfectly.
“I was learning how do to the same types of things he was, just from an opposite perspective,” said Jones. “While he was inside the aircraft working with the gear, I was working with our equipment from the boat.”
Although the trainee said he was nervous about how he would perform at first because he had not had the opportunity to practice from a boat, Jones said he felt more confident as the training progressed.
Since coming to the squadron five months ago, the Sailor said he looks forward to future opportunities to make a difference and potentially save lives.