U.S Coast Guard Brenden Hilleary emerges from the water after leading a group to and from a rescue raft at the annual Coast Guard aviation training on Oct. 11 at Big Lagoon Campground in Trinidad. | Photo by Deven Chavannes

Coast Guard gears up

Members of the Coast Guard got experience in preparing for the worst at Big Lagoon on Thursday Oct. 11

Humboldt Bay Coast Guard prepare for the worst at Big Lagoon

Despite a barbecue filled with pulled pork and dogs begging for attention, a meeting was held at Big Lagoon Campgrounds in Trinidad with an ominous purpose. Though the setting was light-hearted, the crew donned orange and black suits, preparing for the worst case scenario.

“The swimmer is basically dragging you through what seems like a monsoon or a mini-hurricane from the rotor wash coming off the helicopter,” said aviation mechanic Matt Lareau, age 28 from Springfield, Massachusetts, still wet after being hoisted up to the helicopter for the first time.

More than 40 members of the Coast Guard aviation unit went to Big Lagoon on Oct. 11 to practice their annual “wet drills.” The drills involve four training scenarios built around surviving a helicopter crash. The training covered raft and swimming drills, pyrotechnic training with flairs, land survival and vest itemization drills.

Chief rescue swimmer Chris Razoyk, age 40 from Haverhill, Massachusetts, said this training was a chance for the crew to come together and become well acquainted with procedures before they are in a stressful situation.

“Today is a good opportunity for the flight mechanics, pilots, whatever, to get a feel for what it’s like to be under the helicopter,” Razoyk said. “And to feel what it’s like for us, for them, to be in a real situation.”

Matthew Lindblad sets off a smoke flare at one station of the annual Coast Guard aviation training Oct. 11 at Big Lagoon Campground in Trinidad. | Photo by Deven Chavannes

The crew wore neon orange flight suits resembling space suits and waded out into the lagoon to learn how to stay afloat and wrangle each other into a raft of bad scenarios. They also wore bulky black vests to carry survival essentials that weigh 30 pounds on their own.

Avionics electrical technician John Kummerer, age 28 from Columbus, Ohio, experienced his first round of wet drills.

“It’s good to know what you have to do, in case god forbid you do go down,” Kummerer said.

The land survival lecture covered the use of sticks and clothing to create makeshift splints in the event of a land crash involving injuries. Interesting tidbits, such as peeing onto cloth to make it stronger, as made famous in the movie Shanghai Noon, were dispensed to educate the trainees and to also keep the mood light, in opposition to heavy training.

Kummerer found the lecture to be not only helpful in the event of catastrophe at work, but in day to day life here in Humboldt.

“You’re hiking and you don’t have any of that gear on you and you realize that you can use sticks, rocks, whatever for tourniquets,” Kummerer said.

Kummerer may have more use for this practical training now that he’s found a new passion here in Humboldt: disc golf.

“I had never even heard of it until I moved here,” Kummerer said. “And now I love playing disc golf.”

About a dozen pilots and technicians in the lagoon waited for their turn to be lifted up into a hovering helicopter and dropped back down again; a drill that simulated what rescue swimmers and victims experience during a real rescue operation. For some trainees, it was for their first time.

A helicopter hoists up the Humboldt Bay Coast Guard at the annual Coast Guard aviation training Oct. 11 at Big Lagoon Campground in Trinidad. | Photo by Deven Chavannes

Lareau had his first experience being lifted out of the water during these drills. Lareau said he wasn’t scared of the experience at all.

“The guy that was hoisting us up, I work with him every day,” Lareau said. “So I have really no doubt in my mind that everyone up there has our best interest in mind.”

The crew in the Coast Guard have dangerous jobs, but they are a tight-knit group, which makes the job, and living in a secluded place like Humboldt County, a little easier.

“Everybody makes sure that you don’t feel alone,” Lareau said. “We’re pretty close.”

After the drills finished, the grill churned out burgers and pork sandwiches by high-ranking Coast Guard officers. The crew seemed relaxed and at home despite the high-pressure trainings they had just experienced.

“It’s exhilarating,” Lareau said. “That’s why we took jobs like this in the Coast Guard.”


Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination

Major League Marijuana

Why I don’t think marijuana is everything it’s cracked up to be in baseball

Pigs Compost on Campus

CCAT tries to reduce HSU’s food waste footprint through new pig program