U.S. Coast Guard hits the water for annual survival training

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Photo from video footage courtesy of US Coast Guard

Photo from video footage courtesy of US Coast Guard

Texas CityTexas (KIAH) This week members of U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Houston came to Lago Mar to do their annual water survival training at the community`s 12-acre crystal clear lagoon. About 70 personnel attended the big event which included pilots, aircrew and rescue swimmers. They were split into groups to complete a 75-yard swim, immediately followed by two minutes of treading water. Then they had to board a training life raft. And, to make the challenge as realistic as possible, they wore a flight suit, flight boots and a weighted flight harness.

During the training, there were several helicopter-rescue swimmers who served as safety observers both in and out of the water. Each is EMT-qualified and an expert in water safety. Following the in-the-water drills, participants attended various lectures regarding water survival, EMT training and various survival topics.

The idea of using Lago Mars 12-acre crystal clear lagoon came after a Coast Guard morale day held there in July in conjunction with the lagoons National Sailing Club. After the survival training, participants again had a chance to relax at the lagoon.

“These annual drills are a requirement for anyone flying in a rescue helicopter,” said AST1 Zachary Burley. “We have to make sure they have the physical and mental capabilities to survive.”

Zachary Burley/ AST1 U.S. Coast Guard

Burley said these drills are typically held at Stewart Beach. And while the Gulf can provide the choppy water the teams sometimes face during actual rescues, there are disadvantages.

“Waves and wind can move the markers we set up for the swim,” Burley said. “The lagoon allowed us to accurately measure swim distance. Plus, we know the depth so there`s no way someone will be able to touch they had to swim and tread water. We will know they are prepared.”

Zachary Burley/ AST1 U.S. Coast Guard

Not only is the Lago Mar lagoon the states largest, it offers the most shoreline of any lagoon in the nation. It holds 24 million gallons of water and the lagoons liner system is large enough to cover the entire Houston Galleria mall or 14 NFL football fields. The lagoon surface is equivalent to an approximate 1,350 home swimming pools.

“We were all on board about hosting the survival training when the Coast Guard approached us. It`s a large-scale, controlled environment that is perfect for training exercises as it allows the Coast Guard to create unique and precise challenges for its personnel to further develop skills and abilities. Its an honor to make our facilities available to the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard who are the nations premier maritime first responders, helping to minimize the loss of life and property by searching for and rescuing people in distress. This is the first time Coast Guard survival training has been hosted at a crystal clear lagoon to our knowledge, but it`s likely not to be the last.”

Uri Man/ C.E.O. The Lagoon Development Company

More information about the lagoon and Lago Mar can be found at www.lagomarintexascity.com.

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