Coast Guard Cutter Visits Port Lions

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Native Village of Port Lions received a visit from the Coast Guard Cutter SPAR on Thursday. According to crew member James Bushman, it was the first cutter to drop by the community since a visit after the destructive Good Friday earthquake of ’64. He says they received a warm welcome last week.

“The community invited us to local tribal center where they had a luncheon for us, and our captain was able to engage with the local tribal leaders and community leaders just to begin those in-roads with the community – meeting the important figures and leaders who would be able to assist us in assisting them in case of any kind of emergency or anything of that nature.”

Bushman says it helps to build those relationships early.

“Whether it’s on Kodiak or Alaska as a whole or anywhere that the Coast Guard has presence, making those partnerships before an emergency is key so that you know exactly who to reach out to and that community knows who to reach out to in order to respond to any kind of natural disaster, man-made, or search and rescue mission that might come up.”

He says they were in town for only a few hours, but managed to give a presentation to a group of kids about water safety.

“We did in Port Lions the Kids Don’t Float program, which is important to really highlight water safety at a young age, making sure children know how to choose the proper life jackets to wear when they go out. They understand that when they’re thirteen and under, that they are required to have a life jacket on.”

Bushman says since the visit was so short, they couldn’t do the whole program, but says the Coast Guard usually runs children through several activities as part of Kids Don’t Float. For instance, one focuses on how the body reacts to cold water immersion.

“Putting their hands in cold water, I believe. I haven’t seen that one. But just so they can feel how hard it is to manipulate their hands. Trying on the different life jackets in order to see what fits. And different games that they play to make it fun so that they are interested in actually learning about that water safety.”

The Coast Guard does other outreach efforts on Kodiak Island, like the Santa to the Villages program. Around the holidays, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak delivers donated gifts to the different villages. That’s been going on for more than thirty years.

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