Guest post: Training time, Coast Guard style

>Blog and photos by PA3 Brandon Blackwell, Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs:

Being always ready is a task that doesn’t come easy. It takes countless hours of education and training for Coast Guard members to be always ready to respond to all threats, all hazards.

From search-and-rescue to law enforcement, the crew of Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor prepares, on a daily basis, for anything that may come their way.

(Right: Seaman Katherine Kelly is secured in a stokes litter during training at Station Cleveland Harbor, Cleveland, Ohio.)

Surface-swimmer training prepares crewmembers for rescuing mariners in open water. Crewmembers swim out to a ‘distressed’ shipmate, place them in a basket, known as a stokes litter, and bring them to safety.

The well-being of others is not the only reason Station Cleveland Harbor trains—they also prepare to save themselves in the event of an emergency.

Survival swims prepare Guardians for extended periods in the water by teaching them how to stay afloat and keep warm with the aid of a full-body flotation device known as a mustang.

“Any time we are not on patrol or doing necessary work, we are training,” said Petty Officer Sarah Gunderman of Station Cleveland Harbor. “I really feel prepared to do my job because of all the training we do.”

(Left: Seaman Kathrine Kelly is pulled out of the water by fellow crewmen during rescue training at Station Cleveland Harbor, Cleveland, Ohio.)

Although all Coast Guard training is demanding, pepper-spray training is regarded as the most painful part of Coast Guard preparation.

In order to become a qualified member of a boarding team, Guardians must learn how to react and maintain control of a situation in the event they are afflicted with pepper spray.

There is only one way to prepare a Guardian for this: pepper-spray them.

(Right: OUCH! Machinery Technician Third Class Eric Bradley takes a stream of pepper spray to the face during law enforcement training at Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor, Cleveland, Ohio. The training helps prepare members for positions on Coast Guard boarding teams.)

During the course of the training, potential boarding team members are sprayed with the oleoresin-capsicum substance and must retain their weapon and maintain control of a situation in which an ‘attacker’ is using force against them.

“It’s no fun at all, but it’s necessary,” said Gunderman.

(Left: Machinery Techinician Third Class Eric Bradley (left), from Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor, fights off an attacker after being pepper-sprayed in the face. The law enforcement training prepares members for postions on Coast Guard boarding teams.)

Gunderman also continued to explain that in order to perform the mission properly, they must train properly. To expertly conduct a search-and-rescue or law-enforcement mission, the crew of Station Cleveland Harbor must train the way they intend to perform.

This value is instilled into the Coast Guard, transforming its members into experts in successfully completing their missions. The crew of Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor is no exception.

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