Come rain or shine.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Pancotti speaks with community members during the second annual open house event in Annapolis, Md., May 10, 2014. The open house provided community members an opportunity to interact with the station’s Coast Guardsmen and members of their regional partner agencies in an effort to raise boating-safety awareness. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Pancotti speaks with community members during the second annual open house event in Annapolis, Md., May 10, 2014. The open house provided community members an opportunity to interact with the station’s Coast Guardsmen and members of their regional partner agencies in an effort to raise boating-safety awareness. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

 

Post written by PA2 Matt Masaschi

The threat of the forecasted inclement weather didn’t stop the approximately 500 guests from visiting Coast Guard Station Annapolis, Maryland, for their 2nd annual open house May 10.

The open house organizers hoped to double the attendance from 2013, which hosted about 300 attendees.

“We’ve spent months planning, preparing and coordinating with our partner agencies for the open house, in addition to our daily duties and job assignments” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Whitlow, the event organizer.

The elaborate planning was executed by a team of Coast Guard active duty and reserve members in addition to members from regional partner agencies who were onsite supporting the open house and interacting with the attendees.

The main objectives for the open house included educating the boating community on the fundamentals of boating safety and providing community outreach.. The event precedes the National Safe Boating Week campaign, which runs from May 17 to May 23.

“Wear your life jackets,” said Whitlow. “The moment you need your lifejacket and it’s stored forward may be the moment you end up in the water. Your lifejacket is much harder to put on in the water then doing so beforehand on land.”

The open house featured personnel and display booths from several of the Coast Guard’s partner agencies, including the Coast Guard Auxiliary, Anne Arundel Fire Department, Anne Arundel County Police Department, City of Annapolis Fire Department, Anne Arundel County Medical Center mobile blood donation center, the Maryland State Police and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police.

Attendees had the opportunity to talk to representatives from each agency and see first-hand the specialized equipment each agency uses to respond to and prevent emergencies.

The attendees climbed in Coast Guard response boats and learned from the station’s crewmembers about the high-tech tools used to help the Coast Guardsmen during search-and-rescue operations.

Maryland State Police and the Anne Arundel County Police Department helicopters drew curious onlookers out to talk to the pilots and crewmembers of each aircraft. Anne Arundel County’s fire trucks and special operations trucks had no shortage of eager children and parents alike who climbed into the trucks and questioned the emergency responders about the specific pieces of rescue equipment stowed inside.

Coast Guard Auxiliarists educate a community member on various boating-safety topics during the second annual Coast Guard Station Annapolis open house in Annapolis, Md., May 10, 2014. Coast Guard Auxiliarists from Flotilla 23-1 in Annapolis educated community members on the importance of wearing properly fitted life jackets, filing float plans and utilizing marine radios while underway during the open house event. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Coast Guard Auxiliarists educate a community member on various boating-safety topics during the second annual Coast Guard Station Annapolis open house in Annapolis, Md., May 10, 2014. Coast Guard Auxiliarists from Flotilla 23-1 in Annapolis educated community members on the importance of wearing properly fitted life jackets, filing float plans and utilizing marine radios while underway during the open house event. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Coast Guard Auxiliarists from Flotilla 23-1 in Annapolis educated the attendees about the essential elements of safe boating and had several examples of communication devices and various types and sizes of life jackets on display.

“We want to strive to the boating community to be ready for anything when on the water,” said Coast Guard Auxiliarist Jim Beyea. “Be ready so you don’t have to get ready when there’s an emergency.”

Coast Guard Auxiliarists educated the attendees on the importance of filing float plans before heading out on the water and not to solely rely on their cell phones as their method to contact help.

“If you are in an emergency situation, you can put out a broadcast on a VHF radio and any vessel in the area can respond,” said Coast Guard Auxiliarist Walt Discenza. “If you use a cell phone, it may or may not work, and it’s limited to a point-to-point contact. Most of the VHF radios have DSC, Digital Selective Calling, capability which can put out an alert signal that allows the Coast Guard to triangulate the location of the vessel and go to their aid.”

Coast Guard Auxiliarists set up informational displays on various boating-safety topics during the second annual Coast Guard Station Annapolis open house in Annapolis, Md., May 10, 2014. Coast Guard Auxiliarists from Flotilla 23-1 in Annapolis educated community members on the importance utilizing marine radios while underway, wearing properly fitted life jackets and filing float plans during the open house event. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Coast Guard Auxiliarists set up informational displays on various boating-safety topics during the second annual Coast Guard Station Annapolis open house in Annapolis, Md., May 10, 2014. Coast Guard Auxiliarists from Flotilla 23-1 in Annapolis educated community members on the importance utilizing marine radios while underway, wearing properly fitted life jackets and filing float plans during the open house event. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew S. Masaschi.

Visitors were able to escape the sporadic light rain by stepping into the station and stepping back in time with an opportunity to learn about its history through neatly displayed examples of the uniforms and survival gear Coast Guardsmen have donned throughout the station’s 57-years of service.Petty Officer 1st Class Jim Abels offered visitors a comprehensive history lesson about the station’s roots and answered questions about the examples of survival gear that was used by the servicemembers from the 1950’s to current day.

“A lot of the gear issued in the ‘50s was excess property and hand-me-downs from other services,” said Abels as he picked up an old U.S. Army belt and pistol holster once used by Coast Guardsmen. “Times have changed.It’s a lot better now, but it was pretty slim pickings in the early days.”

The air surrounding the station was filled with the smell of burgers and hot dogs being grilled by volunteers from Warrior Events, who provided the refreshments throughout the day and who enthusiastically prepared food to give back to the members of the military.

“Last year was a big success, this year we were trying to make it a huge success,” said Whitlow.

When the event drew to a close the organizers were ecstatic to learn the tally of visitors who came out to the station was nearly twice the number from the previous year.

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