Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: BM1 Craig Case and MK1 Peter York

Story by PA3 Lauren Laughlin

Residents of Western New York may be expecting rain for the coming weekend, but the community likely will not soon forget the record-breaking storm that dumped more

MK1 Peter York and BM1 Craig Case

Petty Officers First Class Peter York and Craig Case stand aboard Station Niagara’s 45-foot response boat.
Both Petty Officers responded to a call for volunteer assistance during the mid-November snowstorms in the nothern New York area.
U.S. Coast Guard photo

than 5 feet of lake-effect snow on the region, trapping many people in their cars, homes and businesses for days.

 

worsening weather conditions

Weather conditions in the northern New York area made travel difficult.
Very few emergency vehicles were able to operate as a result of snow accumulation.
U.S. Coast Guard photo

The snow began to fall Tuesday, and as it relentlessly continued to pile up, a call went out for assistance from anyone with a snowmobile, snowplow or off road vehicle that could help rescuers transport injured and elderly people to hospitals. Responding the need for help were Coast Guard Station Niagara, New York, members Petty Officers 1st Class Craig Case and Peter York.

Both York and case are members of a local snowmobile club. The club was alerted to the need for assistance in the town of Cheektowaga, New York, which had snow up to 6-feet deep covering the roads.

“It was good to see all the volunteers helping out,” said York. “We had quite a few volunteers from other snow clubs in the area.”

Tuesday night, while off duty, York and Case took their snowmobiles to the town’s emergency operations center where they were tasked with assisting a local fire department. The two promptly headed to the fire station, but due to the high snow on the roads had to abandon their truck and travel the remainder of the way by snowmobile.

On the way to the fire station, they encountered emergency medical services personnel struggling to transport patients in ambulances due to the blocked roads. Case and York assisted by carrying patients and EMTs by snowmobile from the stuck ambulances around the blocked roads and through high snow to additional ambulances waiting on cleared roads.

 

 

MK1 Peter York operating the trail groomer

Petty Officer 1st Class Peter York operates the snow tractor while helping to transport other emergency workers and patients.
Weather contidions deteriorated to the point that the tractor was one of the only ways to get through.
U.S. Coast Guard photo

During one of the nights, York escorted a woman giving birth in the back of an ambulance.

“We saw an opportunity to help, so we did” said Case.

By Wednesday, enough snow had accumulated that snowmobiles were unable to get through. York, a licensed emergency response snow tractor operator, was asked to operate the emergency vehicle until the roads were passable again.

York spent the next two days and nights transporting emergency responders and patients during the snowstorm. Once the streets became passable for emergency response vehicles, York plowed the fire department’s driveways and fuel stations. He also transported emergency responders to their homes and back to work.

“York and I joined the Coast Guard to help people, and we are glad that we had this opportunity to assist our community,” said Case.

“ Snow is just another form of water.”