Watch Hill Fire Department
Watch Hill Fire Department
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WHFD Receives Certificate of Merit from the U.S. Coast Guard
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By Department Photographer Rebecca Schilke
October 23, 2018

On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, members of the Watch Hill Fire Department were given a Certificate of Merit from the United States Coast Guard for their quick response in two separate boat rescues this past summer. Chief Peacock accepted the award on behalf of the members and noted that their training, their experience, and their skills were what made these rescues possible.

Our appreciation is extended to Commander Boyd and Lieutenant Mazin from Sector Long Island Sound and Lieutenant MacDonald, Chief Giggi, and BM Phillips from Station New London for attending the ceremony and presenting the Certificate of Merit.

Our appreciation is also extended to the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Association for allowing us to conduct the ceremony at the Watch Hill Lighthouse.

Our appreciation is also extended to the members of the public and to our families and friends for attending the ceremony.

The descriptions of the rescues detailed in the award are below...

Osbrook Point Boat Accident & Rescue

On Monday, May 28th, 2018 at 20:57, the Watch Hill Fire Department was requested by the Westerly Fire Department to check the mouth of the Pawcatuck River after a 9-1-1 call was made to Groton Fire Alarm reporting a boat accident somewhere in the river. Within 4 minutes, 8 Watch Hill volunteer firefighters and EMTs responded with the department’s 25’ SAFE boat and 17’ Boston Whaler. Once underway and after a brief search using our FLIR camera technology, contact was made with a 35’ motor vessel that had struck a clump of rocks off Osbrook Point at the mouth of the Pawcatuck River. The boat was located within 20 minutes of the initial call. Two individuals were on board the vessel that was quickly taking on water and was very unstable in their location with a fast moving outgoing tide. Firefighters were able to swiftly rescue both occupants off the sinking boat within minutes of their arrival. Additionally, Watch Hill firefighters were able to secure the fuel on the sinking boat, preventing an environmental hazard, as well as obtain personal items from the vessel for the occupants. The vessel’s Captain and passenger were assessed by EMTs on board both of WHFD’s boats and were then transported to the fire department’s dock on Bay Street in Watch Hill. Due to the quick moving current and positioning of the sinking vessel, both Watch Hill boats were vital in the success of the rescue mission and all parties and firefighters returned without any injuries. They were also able to communicate all needed information to USCG Station New London and handle the incident for them so that they could continue to work a separate incident in the Connecticut River. This was a fine example of our strong working relationship with USCG Station New London and proof of the mutual trust shared between the agencies.

Watch Hill Fire Deputy Chief Jason Simmons had command of the incident with Lieutenant Christopher Koretski, Lieutenant Dennis Mello, Lieutenant Hannah Schilke, Firefighter Jack Spratt, Firefighter Bill Davis, Firefighter Ray Elterich, Firefighter Rachel Schilke, and Firefighter Rees Harold staffing Marine 100 and Marine 101.


Overturned Vessel off Sandy Point & Rescue

On Friday July 13th, 2018 at 08:01, the Watch Hill Fire Department was requested by Coast Guard Station New London to respond to a report of an overturned vessel with 3 people in the water somewhere off Sandy Point in Stonington, CT. Within 3 minutes of the dispatch, 3 Watch Hill firefighters were staffing the department’s 25’ SAFE boat and were underway in extremely poor visibility conditions with dense fog banking down the entire area. Once underway, radio contact was made with other marine assets responding including the Mystic Fire Department, Stonington Police Department, Groton Long Point Fire Department, Seatow, and USCG New London to establish communications and develop a plan. Despite being the last agency notified, the firefighters from the WHFD were able to locate the overturned vessel within 18 minutes of the response. A set and drift was obtained and relayed to the other responding assets. An expanding square search was then begun by WHFD for the 3 missing individuals. Within 9 minutes of the commence of the search pattern, a Coast Guard asset advised they had located the 3 victims floating within our search grid, approximately 3 miles from where the vessel capsized due to a strong flood tide. While the USCG boat transported the victims to awaiting EMS units in Stonington Harbor, WHFD returned to the capsized boat’s location and provided vital information to the USCG for broadcasts to mariners and their needed documentation. Strong communications were pivotal to this rescue effort. A valiant team effort by all agencies involved as well as other mariners in the area made for a positive outcome and for valuable lessons learned for responses in the future. The Joint Search and Rescue Training provided by USCG New London to our firefighters last year was vital to the interoperability of the agencies and the ultimate success of this mission.

Watch Hill Fire Chief Robert Peacock had command of the incident with Lieutenant Christopher Koretski, Firefighter Jack Spratt, and Firefighter Keith Maine staffing Marine 101.

The view to the West
The view to the West
Crews assemble at the Lighthouse
Crews assemble at the Lighthouse
 
Truck 100 and Marine 100 standing by at the event
Truck 100 and Marine 100 standing by at the event
The sun sets as the ceremony concludes
The sun sets as the ceremony concludes
 
The view to the South
The view to the South
Watch Hill  firefighters arrive at the Lighthouse
Watch Hill firefighters arrive at the Lighthouse
 
Watch Hill Lighthouse
Watch Hill Lighthouse
Engine 103
Engine 103
 
Captain Perkins, Kristen Woodmansee and Chief Peacock
Captain Perkins, Kristen Woodmansee and Chief Peacock
Chief Peacock and Firefighter Evans
Chief Peacock and Firefighter Evans
 
Engine 103
Engine 103
Engines 102 staging by the Lighthouse
Engines 102 staging by the Lighthouse
 
Engines 102 and 103 staging by the Lighthouse
Engines 102 and 103 staging by the Lighthouse
The sun begins to set
The sun begins to set
 
The firefighters begin to assemble at the Lighthouse
The firefighters begin to assemble at the Lighthouse
Engine 102
Engine 102
 
Watch Hill Firefighters
Ne Plus UIltra
"There are none better"
Watch Hill Firefighters Ne Plus UIltra "There are none better"
The ceremony ended as the sun set
The ceremony ended as the sun set
 
Strong winds from the West
Strong winds from the West
Watch Hill Firefighters and US Coast Guard personnel assemble for the presentation
Watch Hill Firefighters and US Coast Guard personnel assemble for the presentation
 
Lieutenant McDonald and Commander Boyd
Lieutenant McDonald and Commander Boyd
Commander Boyd and her daughter
Commander Boyd and her daughter
 
BM Phillips reads the Certificate of Merit
BM Phillips reads the Certificate of Merit
The ceremony begins by the Flag at the Watch Hill Lighthouse
The ceremony begins by the Flag at the Watch Hill Lighthouse
 
Chief Giggi
Chief Giggi
BM Phillips reads the particulars of the Certificate of Merit
BM Phillips reads the particulars of the Certificate of Merit
 
Lieutenant McDonald and Commander Boyd present the Certificate of Merit to Chief Peacock
Lieutenant McDonald and Commander Boyd present the Certificate of Merit to Chief Peacock
BM Phillips, Lieutenant McDonald, and Chief Giggi
BM Phillips, Lieutenant McDonald, and Chief Giggi
 
Commander Boyd meets Deputy Chief Simmons
Commander Boyd meets Deputy Chief Simmons
Firefighter Elterich congratulated by Commander Boyd
Firefighter Elterich congratulated by Commander Boyd
 
The view to the East
The view to the East
Chief Peacock presented Watch Hill patches to all of the Coast Guard members
Chief Peacock presented Watch Hill patches to all of the Coast Guard members
 
Engine 103
Engine 103
Engine 103
Engine 103
 
Engines 102 and 103
Engines 102 and 103
The Sector Long Island Coin presented to the boat crews involved in the rescues
The Sector Long Island Coin presented to the boat crews involved in the rescues
 
The Sector Long Island Certificate of Merit and Coin presented to the boat crew members that were involved in the rescues
The Sector Long Island Certificate of Merit and Coin presented to the boat crew members that were involved in the rescues
The Sector Long Island Coin presented to the boat crew members that were involved in the rescues
The Sector Long Island Coin presented to the boat crew members that were involved in the rescues
 
Squad 100
Squad 100
Ne Plus UIltra
"There are none better"
Ne Plus UIltra "There are none better"
 
Beautiful view to the North
Beautiful view to the North
 

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