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Coast Guard trains for summer mission

By Bonney Bowman 10:29 PM May 8, 2014

If you head out on the water this summer, you might run into the U.S. Coast Guard.

The boarding officers do random safety checks, making sure everyone has the gear they need.

They’re preparing for their summer mission: Patrolling Alaska’s waters.

That means training for every scenario, from the unlikely gun grab to the much more likely drunk boater.

Boarding boats safely takes practice.

“If any mistakes are going to be made, they’re going to be made here. Controlled environment. We do not want to make mistakes while we’re out performing the mission,” said Petty Officer First Class Seth Rosenthal.

The officers say the best tool in their arsenal is communication.

“Ninety-nine times out of 100 you’ll use your verbal skills over actually going hands-on with someone, and so it’s definitely good to practice those and be prepared to handle the different types of people and their ways of communicating,” said Petty Officer Nicholas Greene.

Sometimes words aren’t enough. That’s why officers practice takedowns as well.

As they run through the scenarios, the officers don’t know what’s coming. They have to rely on the techniques covered in class, think on their feet and react.

“We’re taking all these different skills that we learned independently and now we are putting them all together and making each individual officer make their own choices,” Rosenthal said.

The officers say something as simple as running through a field sobriety test in class makes them that much more confident on the water, even if everything goes smoothly.

“If our job goes 100 percent according to plan, it never happens and we get off every boat that we encounter and everything is OK. But sometimes you encounter boaters that are less than cooperative and you have to be prepared to handle the scenarios,” Greene said.

The officers say training as a team is beneficial because they can learn from each other’s past experiences on the water.

They’ll start patrolling over Memorial Day weekend.

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