Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Kids from every elementary school in Del Norte County were given memorable lessons in water safety Friday by the many men and women who respond to water emergencies on the Del Norte Coast.

The event closed off the west end of Anchor Way Friday morning as helicopters and rescue equipment parked near Whaler Island.

Del Norte County Sheriff’s Sgt. Enrique Ortega estimated about 20 agencies and 50 personnel came out, including the sheriff’s office, Crescent City Police, the U.S. Coast Guard, California Highway Patrol, Del Norte County Search and Rescue, Del Norte Ambulance, the California Department of Corrections, National and State Parks, CALFIRE, Reach/Cal-Ore Rescue, the Forest Service, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and others.

He said about 275 to 300 fifth graders were treated to lunch and demonstrations.

Kids also learned the basics of CPR, toured rescue vehicles and helicopters, talked to pilots and rescuers, toured the USCG Cutter Dorado and even got to pet a police dog.

At the end of the day, kids watched two simulated ocean rescues, the first with a live victim. After being scooped from the water and onto a JetSki, the simulated victim was brought up a steep shore, loaded onto a stretcher, and transported by cable over the water to a waiting ambulance.

Kids watched the Coast Guard helicopter take off from the parking area, fly over the water and drop a dummy into the bay. The chopper then lowered to a safe distance and a rescuer jumped into the water and swam over. A basket was lowered from the helicopter to lift the victim before the rescuer was hoisted by cable up and away.

Ortega said the program has been put on annually for the last six years, and he has been coordinating for three, along with Becky Barlow.