Situational Awareness Saves the Day

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Auxiliarists Larry Cox (left) and Dorothy Bishop (right) present Recreational Boating Safety Program Partner Belinda Ellis (center) with a United States Coast Guard Auxiliary certificate of appreciation and a USCG Auxiliary Challenge Coin at the Siletz Moorage office.  Photo by Auxiliarist Donna Cox.

It was just another quiet boating day on the Siletz River in coastal Oregon in late fall, when a tragedy was narrowly averted by the quick response of one of the Siletz Moorage managers. Manager Belinda Ellis was on duty in the office when she noticed a boat getting ready to leave the dock with two adults and three children aboard. There was nothing unusual about boaters heading out to get some crabs in Siletz Bay except that none of the children were wearing a life jacket.

Article by Auxiliarist Larry Cox, Lincoln City, Oregon

As a Recreational Boating Safety (RBS) Program Partner, a business that displays safe boating literature, Ellis was well aware of the Oregon Law requiring children under 12 to wear lifejackets when aboard an underway boat. She immediately ran down to the dock to inform the parents of the law only to be told that they didn’t have any children’s life jackets on board. As a renter of boats and kayaks, Siletz Moorage has a supply of life jackets of all sizes, so Ellis invited the children up to the office to be properly fitted with life jackets.

Soon the family departed with everyone outfitted with lifejackets and ready to have a fun-filled day on the water. A short time after they departed Ellis received an alert that the boat had sunk in the bay and all five occupants were in the water. A Good Samaritan boater in the area did not take long to rescue all five. However, their boat was located at the bottom of the bay. The Good Samaritan returned the wet and very fortunate family to the dock and the next day the boat was floated to the surface and returned to the owners.

As a direct result of her astute situational awareness Ellis prevented a tragedy by delaying the family departure and taking the time to fit the children with life jackets. As an RBS Program Partner of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary she is a real advocate of boating safety. The USCG Auxiliary currently has over 200 RBS Program Partners in the North Lincoln County area from Otter Rock to Pacific City, and up the Siletz River.

In recognition of her quick action the Depoe Bay Auxiliary unit presented her with a USCG Auxiliary Certificate of Appreciation and a US Coast Guard Auxiliary Challenge coin. “Outstanding job” to Belinda Ellis of Siletz Moorage for keen situational awareness and a job well done.

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  1. Bob Miller says:

    Bravo zulu to our partner in boating safety, Ms Ellis!

  2. Daren Lewis says:

    BZ to Ms. Ellis for her commitment to boating safety. I stood on the spot with Auxiliarist Cox a few days later – this location and situation would have been deadly if not for Ms. Ellis. Auxiliarist Cox is too humble to mention that the moorage is a program partner and that he and his fellow Flotilla Depoe Bay members have worked with Ms. Ellis to promote RBS. This is proof that our partnership efforts save lives. BZ to all.

  3. Jeff Fite says:

    BZ, Belinda! Kudos, too, to the local Flotilla’s Program Visitors for cultivating the RBS partnership that this hero relied on to avert a tragedy.

    And, an important reminder to us all that the Coasties dangling from a helicopter aren’t the only ones who save lives.

  4. Dale Hollingsworth says:

    BZ…Semper Paratus

  5. Robert David Keith says:

    I am new to Coast Guard Auxiliary. That was a story with a great ending. I was wondering how the boaters responded to you before and after accident. Also, how you handled situation if they didn’t like your insistence on life jackets for the children.

  6. Rob Waltemate says:

    Wow! Very well done!

  7. Terry Kalil says:

    BZ Great “Sixth Sense” for “Safety”

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