MSU Extension staff receive Coast Guard search and rescue award

MSU Extension staff members were recognized by the Coast Guard for their roles in rescuing two people last summer on the Detroit River.

L to R -  Stewart, Nebel, Raymond and Ogden from US Coast Guard award ceremony.
L to R - Stewart, Nebel, Raymond and Ogden from US Coast Guard award ceremony.

On Feb 19, 2014 the United States Coast Guard formally recognized the Michigan State University Extension crew of the education vessel Clinton at a ceremony conducted at Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. While conducting one of the many Summer Discovery Cruises offered on Lake Erie, the Detroit River, and Lake St. Clair by Michigan Sea Grant Extension, these staff members helped save the lives of two people when they responded to a mayday call on the Detroit River last August.

During the ceremony, Captain Jeff Ogden, commander of Coast Guard Sector Detroit, presented Norman Raymond, Stephen Stewart and Elizabeth Nebel with the Captain David P. Dobbins Award for excellence in search and rescue. Patrick Livingston and Jenna Roy also earned the award but were unable to attend the ceremony. Stewart, who coordinates the Summer Discovery Cruises program for Michigan Sea Grant Extension, accepted on behalf of Livingston and Roy.

While operating the education vessel – the Clinton – Raymond responded to a mayday call by the Canadian Coast Guard who reported that two people were in the water in the Detroit River. The crew found a personal watercraft running, but unmanned on the river, and began searching for the two missing people.

They located the father and son clinging to a buoy nearby. The crew brought the son on board the Clinton, while a Canadian Coast Guard vessel rescued the father. Raymond attributes his search and rescue skills to being an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, in which he is a coxswain and commander of Division 20, 9th District Central Region. He and Stewart conduct regular staff training in safety procedures, including rescues, for all MSU Extension staff involved in vessel-based education.

The Dobbins Award is presented by the Coast Guard in recognition of outstanding action accomplished while conducting a search and rescue mission on the Great Lakes. Dobbins was appointed the first superintendent of the U.S. Lifesaving Service of the Great Lakes in 1876. He distinguished himself by performing and organizing numerous heroic rescues during his career. In memory of his heritage, initiative and dedication, the award is presented to individuals who perform distinguished search and rescue acts on the Great Lakes.

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