September 2nd, 2009 10:15 EST
Some people have to live life in the fast lane. They have to have the dare devil attitude and take the live life on the edge approach to their everyday style of living. These dare devils have to have their shot of adrenaline rushing through their veins everyday to feel happy and fulfilled.
Some people like to bungee cord jump, sky dive, drive 110 miles an hour on the freeway, or do any type of dangerous activity that pushes their adrenaline like water rushing through a fire hose and to the point they can taste their adrenaline as it rushes up their throat and through their body. That`s fine if someone wants to be become a star on the show Jackass " but for the real people that have to perform this way daily in their everyday jobs makes these types of everyday people heroes.
On top of being an ex-Army Veteran I am also an ex-Coast Guard veteran. When I was in the Coast Guard, I was in search and rescue for about three years and in law enforcement about the same amount of time. Going on tons of search and rescue cases in the Coast Guard and being in every type of weather condition on those cases, I know what it is like to have adrenaline rushes and what adrenaline tastes like.
Most of the time when someone calls the Coast Guard to save them, it is not a nice and sunny day with calm winds and following seas. It is normally during a storm and a Mayday call over the radio. I was stationed in Northern Maine which is the North Atlantic Ocean and in the North Atlantic it only has about two to three months out of the year that the weather may be sunny and the temperature reaches seventy-three degrees. And that is in mid-summer. The rest of the year is normally frigid and cold with lots of snow and nor`easters.
There is no greater feeling than to get under way in a storm and save someone. The scenario normally goes like this, it`s below zero outside, the snow is so deep you have to dig tunnels to get through it to get to where you are going and that is normally from the station to the peer. The wind is blowing over fifty knots which creates white out conditions. There are small ice bergs floating in the water in the harbor and around the coast.
You are in the boat crew room tucked nicely in bed with that nice and warm, cozy blanket keeping your every part of your body warm and snug. You are sound asleep from a long day of working on the boats, training, and getting ready for what is about to happen.
All of a sudden the SAR (Search and Rescue) alarm goes off. It is three o`clock in the morning. Your eyes open up out of a dead sleep and since you train extensively for situations like this you just react to the situation and get moving. Your feet hit the floor, you get fully dressed, and you grab your heavy weather protective suit which looks almost like a space suit. The heavy weather suit protects you from the extreme elements and protects you if you get washed overboard; you could probably survive an hour with the heavy weather protective suit on in that frigid water until you hopefully get rescued.
You grab your boots and out the door you go with the rest of your team and crew to the awaiting pick-up truck sitting in front of the station. You jump in back of the truck and the truck speeds down the road that leads to the peer like it was a race horse out of the starting gate.
You reach the peer and the awaiting Coast Guard heavy weather boat and on you go to the deck being very careful not to slip with the ice covering the deck like an ice skating rink. The Boatswain Mate jumps in the coxswain chair, the seamen crew start to unmoor the large ropes holding the boat to the peer. I start shouting out commands to get the boat underway since I am the leading seaman, and the engineer lights off the engines from below and off we go.
The wind hits you like someone throwing snow in your face. It stings your bare skin as you cover as much of your face as you can to protect you from the elements. The boat is slowly moving in the harbor which at that point may have five to seven foot swells in it.
As you get closer to the opening of the harbor and to the open ocean you look at the two-hundred year old light house sitting on the edge of the break water, illuminated light twirling in a circle as to warn ships of the large and jagged rocks sitting up and down the coast. The snow is blowing like a sand storm and you see the tiny ice crystals being illuminated as the brightly lit light from the light house spins in circles and lights up the harbor.
As you near the mouth of the harbor, you start to feel the power of the open ocean and the strength of the large swells as they pummel the bow of the search and rescue boat. You go up and down the swell and ride it to the side as if you were a surfer riding a wave so you don`t flip the boat over.
As you hit the open ocean, you start to get pounded by huge swells that you can`t even see coming because it is pitch dark out there. The only light you see if from your boat, the lighthouse and maybe a small buoy bobbing up and down as the swells ride smoothly under it.
Now you are out at sea and heading to save the sinking boat that is counting on the Coast Guard and the heroes of this service to save them. The skilled Boatswain Mate at the helm is using every ounce of their seamanship and boat handling skills to keep the boat on course and upright in the against the odds storm we are currently battling.
You strap yourself onto the frame of the boat. The boat starts to look like a large ice carving from the swells pounding it and the water freezing on the frame and deck of the boat as the swells wash over the boat. The boat is also very unstable with the added weight of the ice, so the handling of the boat and seamanship have to be perfect which is crucial to survival.
As you move slowly towards the boat in distress which could be miles out at sea, I can honestly say that every ounce of my adrenaline is pumping through me so hard that the tips of my fingers are tingling. My heart is pounding so hard I almost feel like I could have a heart attack at any second.
At times, you are hit by a swell out of nowhere from the port or starboard side that hits you with such force it is like getting hit by a right hook from a boxer. The boat violently pitches to the other side as if it is going to flip over. The Coxswain grabs the helm and steadies the boat. You grab onto anything you can as not to get thrown overboard. This goes on until you finally reach the boat in distress.
Again, your training takes over. All you can think about is to get these people onboard and out of harm`s way. By now, after getting pounded by swells and waves, your legs feel like jell-o and your body is frozen stiff and so tired you need to use your every ounce of reserve energy to keep you going, but your adrenaline somehow kicks in to the next level.
You react from the hours and hours and hours of training you have done in the past to prepare for situations like this. You work as a perfect team with precise precision and no mistakes. You get the people onboard from the sinking vessel and turn the boat around carefully as not to make one wrong move in turning the boat around in the storm because if one millimeter is incorrect and it is not in perfect timing with the approaching swells as you turn the boat to head home and one of the twenty-foot swells hit you the wrong way, you might as well want to go swimming because the boat will more than likely flip over.
As the boat gets turned around safely, you are now getting pounded from the swells and wind from the other side. You think about making it home (back to the station) safely. Your first concern is to take care of the people you just saved and get them below deck and bundled up and safe. Once that is done, now the rescue is half over.
As you get nearer to the harbor and you now see the lighthouse, you almost become excited as if you are coming home to see your family after being gone a long time. You finally reach the inside of the harbor after a few hours. As you pass by the lighthouse, the swells inside the harbor get smaller and you finally reach the peer to get the boat moored and the people you just rescued off safely and to the awaiting ambulance that is going to take them to the hospital to get checked out.
As you go below deck to help the people up to the peer, one of them stops and looks you in the eye and says, Thank you and then grabs you like you were a teddy bear and gives you a big hug. You then help them in the ambulance and watch the ambulance drive up the peer. You then moor the boat and get ready to do it all over again with the next future mayday call which again could come within minutes.
Now, who`s the adrenaline junkie?!