ELIZABETH CITY -- Crews out of the Coast Guard's Air Station Elizabeth City are the best of the best when it comes to saving lives at sea.

Joe was training with Avionics Electronics Technician and Flight Mechanic Michael Allen, who operates the crane and basket and serves as the eyes that guide the pilots.

'I absolutely love it. It's a great job. I don't know what I could do more, other than be in the front,' said Allen.

On board was pilot Scott Koser, co-pilot Jared Carbajal, rescue swimmer John Knight and qualifying swimmer Keith Williams, who spent four years in the US Navy before moving to the Coast Guard.

Joe was participating in their training exercise. Knight would be the survivor and Williams had to rescue him and then they would switch roles. The scenarios kept changing.

'Just working with the rescue devices today, I mean, that water is pretty murky and just as soon as you stick your face in the water you really can't see anything. And you do a lot with just feel. And with more experience it will come easier,' Williams said.

That's what training is all about. More experience and practice, practice, practice.

This MH60 has a camera in the cabin. For years the US Coast Guard has documented some of the most challenging rescues at sea.

Joe asks the crews about the HMS Bounty rescue video in which 14 lives were saved by the crews based out of Elizabeth City.

'We got five. We got the first guy, that free-floater, and then four more from the raft,' said rescue swimmer Randy Haba.

Haba was right in the thick of the Bounty rescue last year. His name appears on the gumby suit that proudly hangs on the wall of fame in the swimmer's headquarters and is receiving a Bravery at Sea award from the International Maritime Organization.

Each life jacket tells a story of lives saved under unbelievable conditions.

Joe's training continued, from attaching the hoist bands to handling the lift basket properly to communicating with survivors and fellow crewmen.

'He just told me if this was a real situation and there was a real survivor in the water you just got to keep talking to them and keeping them calm,' said Williams.

The swimmers have to be physically fit.

'Well the winters are kind of rough. The water gets a little chilly. Probably mild hypothermic most of your life, but it's a great job helping people, saving lives and property,' added Knight.

If asked the crew will humbly say they are just doing their job. How did Michael think Joe's training went? 'Not too bad. Everyone takes time and a lot of training, but it's a good job to do,' Allen said.

Read or Share this story: