How does an airborne rescue work?
We generally fly with a crew of four: two pilots, a flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer. The flight mechanic is the one who operates the hoist: He's strapped in but free to move; he's giving the pilot conning commands. The swimmer, he's on the cable, the hoist hook. He wears a harness and different rescue devices, and he hooks up to the passenger so you don't have the risk of holding on and dropping them. The main advantage of a helicopter is when mariners go into weather, they don't have a long time for survival. Generally, it's in the low 50s up to 55 degrees F. With just a life jacket, it's potentially within an hour; if no life jacket, it's 15 minutes. Aircraft are limited on size, but they can get on the scene quicker. Our surface asset, the 47-foot motor lifeboat, is a great vessel, and can take more people. That responds to most of the cases around here.