U.S. Coast Guard Holland Station preps for busy boating season

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HOLLAND, Mich. - The U.S. Coast Guard Holland Station is getting ready for Memorial Day Weekend with their annual Emergency Response Scenario off the coast of Holland.

Officer in charge and Chief, Eli Paquette, for the U.S. Coast Guard Station Holland, tells Fox 17 his team is training on the water and making sure their skills are sharp for the boating season ahead.

"So today's scenario was a paddle boarder fell overboard and all that was left on scene was a paddle board," said Chief Paquette.

The scenario for this kind of training changes every year, keeping first responders on the same page when every second counts. For this exercise, the team searched through choppy waters, looking for anything out of the ordinary.

"So hopefully the person in the water has bright clothes or hands waving, anything that looks out of place in the waves like debris and peo ple," said Chief Paquette.

After a half-hour in, the team found their mark. Members of the Coast Guard Station Holland conduct this kind of training several times a week. In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, the Ottawa County Marine Unit, DNR, and local EMS were in attendance.

Chief Paquette and Sgt. Cal Keuning, Ottawa County Marine Unit, ask boaters to consider safety before they hit the water.

"Safety, safety, safety," said Sgt. Keuning. "Have a game plan, have a float plan, and when you're in the boat know where those life jackets are. Better yet, have the life jackets on."

Chief Paquette wants to remind the public about the new alcohol limit being lowered to .08, reflecting the legal limit behind the wheel of a car.

"We recommend not to drink and drive at all," said Chief Paquette. "Have a designated driver and have a float plan. Tell a family member where you're going to be launching out of and what time you should be back at."

The U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies are big on boaters attending a safety course to learn more about what to do on the water should an emergency arise.

Chief Paquette said classes can be taken through the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Ottawa County Sherrif's Department, or through Boat-ed.com.

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