North Fork rescue workers complete grueling training program

CUTCHOGUE FIRE DEPARTMENT COURTESY PHOTO As Scott Harris watches from the helm of one of the Orient Fire Department’s two rescue boats, rescue volunteers Burke Libert and Andy Ruroede help Sue Worth out of Gardiners Bay Saturday during one exercise in a three-day rescue boat training course hosted by Orient for area fire departments.

The Orient Fire District hosted an exhaustive training program for local marine rescue teams last weekend that kept them on their toes for three days and nights, learning new skills and techniques with their rescue boats as they conducted exercises in Gardiners Bay and Plum Gut.
“The days were long and the training intensive, often exhausting,” said Bud Griffiths of the Orient Board of Fire Commissioners, “but all agreed it was worth it.” All the volunteers who completed the course will receive certificates as public safety rescue boat operators, he said.
To conduct the program, the district hired Ocean Rescue Systems of Portland, Maine, a nationally known firm that had recently completed a similar program for the U.S. military and Japanese civilian authorities on Okinawa. Its fee was $2,400. With Orient having acquired its two rescue boats recently, officials decided a thorough training program — one that included coordination with other departments as well as drills and exercises for boat crews — would allow volunteers to make the best use of their vessels in emergencies.
Volunteers from the Orient, Cutchogue, Southold and East Marion departments learned to make rescues day and night in breaking seas, strong currents and close to rocky shorelines, and covered a range of skills and topics, including using GPS and radar during searches, high-speed maneuvers, close-quarter handling, search methodology and recovering people from the water — a task that may seem easier than it really is to the initiated, Mr. Griffiths said.
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