Sunday, June 29, 2008

U.S. Coast Guard Warning About Hoaxes

The U.S. Coast Guard says it's responded to several distress calls this month on Lake Michigan. One call in particular is prompting the organization to warn of the dangers associated with making a false distress call. On June first, the U.S. Coast Guard says it responded to a distress call made by a child near the Milwaukee area of Lake Michigan. After an hour and a half search, which involved a rescue boat and a helicopter, the Coast Guard realized the call was a hoax. The search though cost tax payers an estimated $14,000. "We treat every distress call as an actual emergency, we have to," says John Davis, with the Coast Guard. Davis says the costs can add up quickly when his crew goes out on a rescue or search. He says it costs about $400 an hour just in the salaries of his crew. Operating the boat costs an additional $1700 an hour and that's not including the cost of bringing in other rescue vehicles.But it's not just money that's taken by false distress calls. "Let's say a call comes in and our most probable position is up in Kewaunee," says Davis. "Well that's the farthest extreme of our area for operation for this unit. Then an actual emergency occurs in Manitowoc, well then we have a two hour transit to get back to where we started." He also says, "When our boat crew gets underway there's no boat crew back here on standby. It's not like the Green Bay Police Department where if they take a car out of the area and there's a car they can take from another area and backfill. We're it." Plus, Davis says, anytime a crew goes out on the water they are risking injury to themselves. "It could be flat calm and all the sudden a storm cell will come in and we're out there in the middle of it," he says. All reasons why Davis hopes people think before radioing in a hoax.

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