What we need our leaders to do about the oil spill is to listen to things from all sides and exercise judgment - calm, sound judgment. Not a soul on the earth has any experience capping a mile-deep oil well. Nothing in our leaders experience will help them. We're going to have to hope that they are smart and not unnerved by the ridiculous pressures that come from outside the problem. We're going to have to hope that what the public thinks about what they are doing to work the problem doesn't change how they actually work the problem. The situation itself is pressure enough.
So if a crew member falls overboard and every looks O.K. - don't be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don't look like they're drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: "Are you alright?" If they can answer at all - they probably are. If they return a blank stare - you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.
As a veteran helicopter rescue swimmer and now a marine safety specialist for the United States Coast Guard, I’ve seen a lot of boating trips gone wrong. Accidents are accidents, but after twelve years on the job, I’ve noticed that most of the emergencies we respond to are easy to avoid. With a little additional planning and preparation, you can dramatically decrease your chances of ever having to call for help. Consider the following before your next trip and we’ll probably never meet. Remember where you’re going: Remember that “offshore” means “isolated in a hostile environment.” Keeping that in mind changes the way you think about everything else. Your passengers: Do they have any medical conditions? Are they adequate swimmers? What is their boating experience? The answers make a big difference, but you have to ask the questions first. Life-saving drugs like asthma, heart, allergy meds, and insulin come along for the ride, or those who need them don’t. Period. […]
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