Dopey Kayaker Lost on Great Adventure Causes Vital Rescue Resources to be diverted
(ASSATEAGUE ISLAND, MD) – When a kayaker gets lost and calls for help, her rescue is important to keep her from having to spend the night on a strange beach near Assateague but also diverts important rescue resources from being available for an actual emergency. This story is a class case of kayakers deciding to take to the waves and bays without a clue of what to do.
Maryland State Police report that on May 5th, 2015 at approximately 6:30pm, Worcester County Emergency Services (911 Center) received a 911 call from a 26 year old female kayaker. She had been kayaking in Sinepuxent Bay in the area of the Assateague Island National Seashore. She was lost, fatigued and unable to find her way out of a marshy area. The kayaker also reported she felt she was becoming hypothermic.
The temperature was in the eighties which ought to throw cold water on the idea that she was becoming hypothermic, but who wants to put down a good rescue story?
Police report that the only location reference she could provide was a marshy area several miles south of the Verrazano Bridge.That was because while boaters have to have safety kits approved by the Coast Guard, kayakers only have to be equipped with their wits, which clearly wasn’t enough for this dipsy paddle dipper. But she could check her email and call for help on Facebook!
In addition to National Park Service (NPS) staff, the Berlin Volunteer Fire Company and Maryland State Police Aviation Command (MSPAC) were alerted. MSPAC Trooper 4 responded from the Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico County Regional Airport with a crew of four. Prior to departing the hangar, the crew quickly rigged the aircraft for hoist operations. While enroute the crew prepared the USCG Rescue Basket in case it was needed.
Worcester County Emergency Services dispatchers were able to stay in contact with the kayaker via her mobile phone. The dispatchers played a crucial role in relaying information between the victim and rescue personnel. Shortly after arriving in the search area, Trooper 4 located the kayaker. She was found on the eastern side of Sinepuxent Bay several miles south of the Verrazano Bridge. The location was not accessible by foot or rescue vessels.A decision was made to rescue the kayaker via Trooper 4’s rescue hoist. Worcester County Emergency Services dispatchers were able to relay information to the victim about what was going to happen and what she needed to do. After this information was relayed Trooper 4 lowered the Rescue Basket and quickly extricated her from the marsh. Trooper 4 then flew her to the western base of the Verrazano Bridge. Trooper 4 landed and transferred her to Berlin Volunteer Fire Company personnel for further evaluation and to meet with NPS staff. The kayaker was not injured and did not require medical treatment.This search and rescue incident highlights the importance of carrying an appropriate communication device during recreational activities. The kayaker was able to call for help and 911 dispatchers were crucial in coordinating the response and rescue. The Maryland State Police Aviation Command has served Maryland citizens since 1970 and operates a fleet of ten helicopters from seven bases throughout Maryland on a 24/7/365 basis. Missions include medevac, law enforcement, search & rescue, homeland security, and disaster assessment. The success of rescues performed by the Aviation Command depends a great deal on the cooperative effort of local fire, rescue, EMS, and law enforcement agencies.