[header 2]A Son of Micronesia Shines[/header]
Along with the three instructors was a Mr. Ralph Goto who is the Director of Honolulu County Life Guards. Mr. Goto was invited as a consultant to assess the level of local team skills and determine the best way to achieve Red Cross certification under standards set by the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA).
Even though the rescue teams from the Gov Guam Life Guards, Fire Department, Police Department and the Andersen Air Force Base Fire and Rescue Division were the main components undergoing this special training program exercise (SAREX-2008), the coordinating SAR (Search and Rescue) chairman, Chief Douglas Samp of the US Coast Guard thought it prudent to include personnel from Jeff’s Pirates cove; one trainee and a support/logistics person. His reasoning for this special invitation was based on the several occasions that the JPC staff and management have rescued scores of local fishermen and kite board surfers from the treacherous rip currents of the Togcha Channel on Ipan-Talofofo’s east coast.
Douglas Phillip, originally from the Mortlock Islands east of Chuuk, was chosen by Jeff Pleadwell to undergo the SAREX training as he has been the lead rescuing person for the past several years and also the strongest swimmer of all the JPC staff.
The training was rigid, tough and demanding. At the conclusion of each day, team members were required to swim 500 meters before they could wrap up the day and head home for a hot shower and maybe a cool beer. By the third day, all trainees had discovered muscles they never knew they had; indicated by the evening’s pains and aches. The five days of SAREX was clearly an intense training regime that most ordinary people could not accomplish perhaps in two to three weeks.
SAREX was sponsored by the Guam Visitors Bureau Beach Safety Committee by providing traveling, hotel and meal expenses for the off island instructor team. The SAR group itself, a multi agency coalition of Guam’s Federal, Territorial, and volunteer maritime first responders (such as JPC), provided the overall logistics and coordination. Jeff has invested nearly $20,000 to equip his east coast rescue station which is comprised of a well maintained Polaris Jet Ski with trailer and other safety equipment. Most of the rescued people are fishermen and kite boarders and not so much his tourist Cove patrons.
The final briefing of SAREX was undertaken at Jeff’s Pirates Cove on Friday May 9th evening that was concluded with each of the trainees receiving a Certificate of Jet Ski Rescue course completion. Jeff provided his typically scrumptious BBQ and added in free beer on tap to all the SAREX personnel.
Douglas, a shy and polite kind of guy and not one to drink even a beer, looked quietly on. He clapped and cheered with each trainee receiving their certificates. But at last, and not least, when he thought the certificates were all handed out, Chief Samp loudly announced the final certificate recipient. In shock, Douglas’s name was read Douglas Phillip of Jeff’s Pirates Cove! The entire SAREX force cheered wildly as they clapped and whistled. If they only knew what this truly meant for Douglas; peer team recognition of his abilities and capabilities to safely and confidently operate the JPC Jet Ski to save a life in peril at Guam’s treacherous Togcha Channel.
Jeff bought the Polaris Jet Ski four years ago after witnessing so many reoccurring fatalities and personally undertaking ad hoc rescues in the Togcha channel. Now with Douglas’s training, JPC can now use it safely with an added edge of confidence in line with the professionals of the Guam Fire Department, Police Department, and Andersen Air Force’s Rescue teams.
Douglas is also the husband of Jeff Pleadwell’s daughter Sara. Sara and Douglas have been blessed with a charming seven year old daughter Emma and a vibrant, sharp five year old son Charlie; like father like son perhaps. Well Done Douglas!