Flotilla 4-08 District 8 Coastal Region - Slidell, Louisiana
Operations Ribbon granted to those who qualify in auxiliary operations programs. Click on the ribbon to go to the National Operations website, (the "O' dept) at: http://www.auxodept.org
This is one of the ways that flotilla 04-08 tries to be different. We have an IT help desk & FSO-CS page! Fully implementing the idea of the e-Auxiliary, go to the Web Officer's Page at the FSO-CS link below for Internet and computer assistance.
Members of the Auxiliary have the opportunity to train in six operational specialty courses. An AUXOP member has completed all six advanced specialty courses and is entitled to wear the special AUXOP device on the uniform. (Click on the device for more info.)
From the this ain't no "Paper Flotilla" dept: See the flotilla on duty & on the water at the Krewe of Bilge Parade here at furstphotos.com further efforts to distance ourselves from a paper flotilla are HELO OPS support, and the extensive training described on the Surface Ops and Boat Crew pages.
Active Duty Helicopter pilots are required to have a number of basket drops, (of each kind), diver jumps and recoveries, SAR practice scenarios, and surface vessel coordination drills. If they can actually practice such things in the "real world" on SAR call outs and etc, it counts. More than likely, the "real world" will be 99% of boredom and training, and only 1% of nail biting terror. That's where the Auxiliary comes in to support training of helicopter crews and pilots, to add variety of boat types in coordination drills and variety in practice "victim" boats and casualties, as well as coordination training for AUX crews in air/sea Search And Rescue scenarios involving USCG helicopters.
General Helo Ops Support Mission
Remember reading the "this ain't no paper flotilla" paragraph on our home page? One of the Coxswains remembered. He asked at the very next meeting "How can we say we're not a paper flotilla when it's the very same (small) group of guys barely pulling it off? When it's so few that coxswains are crewing on each other's boats to get the job done?"
The challenge was quickly accepted. Some members even took time off from work to be available. Trainers and senior officers of the flotilla quickly got another Boat Crew class together, and qualified six people to crew Auxiliary vessels. Another group was qualified at the second class. We now have more crew, more boats, and a heavier schedule than ever before.
These are some of the things that you can expect:
? Prepare to get wet. USCG rescue helicopters can get as close as 15 feet above the boat, though they try not to. (Depth perception is difficult.) The rotors whip up a lot of spray, and if the boat's in 3ft waves (which is more realistic to a SAR coordination exercise..) you'll contend with boat spray as well. Hopefully, you didn't think you could participate in USCG Aux Boat Ops and stay dry...
? Auxiliary Facilities have minimum crew standards, even when acting as "victim" boats. And they obviously must have minimum crew when coordinating air/sea SAR routines or other training exercises. Make that minimum "boat crew" certified crew. It's possible to actually train in Helo Ops and the Boat Crew programs at the same time, but that makes for a crowded boat. If an officer, photographer, or other dignitary is onboard, forget it. It'll be standing room & certified crew only.
? Both Coxswains and Crew will need to know, and adhere to, the respective safety protocols of their position. The chopper will have limited depth perception, but will be generating a dangerous amount of static electricity on the metal basket. You'll learn when to touch it, when not to, when and how to use a grounding rod, and when one is not necessary. Signaling the pilot when basket is at proper height, handling the basket line in an efficient and safe manner, and releasing it safely.
? Prepare emergency response plans and train Auxiliary members to effectively support emergency mobilization of
? Helo Ops Boat Crew augment the staffing of Coast Guard response forces; Provide surge capability, variety and flexibility options to that response.
? Boat Crew doing Helo Ops should eventually know the location of all emergency exits on the helicopters used by the USCG, and will be expected to eventually attend briefings at the New Orleans Air Station.
? The Auxiliary's National Operations department has placed an emphasis on multi-role missions during surface operations. While doing a Maritime Domain Awareness or safety patrol why not check aids to navigation? Or perform a Public Affairs mission while underway? Helo Ops definitely meets the new philosophy of doing patrols by adding the support training of helicopter crews and pilots, coordination drills and practice "victim" boats, as well as coordination training for AUX crews in air/sea SAR scenarios involving USCG helicopters.
The Helo Ops Program and Augmentation
Helo Ops is not a PQS or secondary certification - not yet. But it is far different from a typical patrol. The usual auxiliary patrol can possibly, but rarely does, interface with active duty personnel. Helo Ops, by definition, always will. Screw up on an auxiliary mission and your fellow auxies laugh at you. Screw up on Helo Ops and it's the whole auxiliary that you just represented. Are you ready for that level of responsibility?
I was recently asked to do a night operation in the Helo Ops program. Never thought of it before, but if the whole idea of Helo Ops is practicing for the real thing, and the "real thing" could just as easily be at night, it only makes sense. I'm not going to put "be prepared to do it in the dark or at night" in the what to expect section, but it's certainly available. And you can certainly expect to be be asked, eventually. And let's face it. The Coast Guard is a 24/7 type of service, day or night, and so are we. To maintain that kind of commitment, we need to train, and to be ready, both day and night.
It was stated earlier that all boats on Helo Ops had to have a minimum of boat crew certified crewmembers. Why should a boat be required to have a minimum of anything when it is portraying a "victim" boat, you ask? Turns out that USCG regulations require it in case of a "real world" Search and Rescue call out in the middle of playing and training. Wouldn't make much sense to call around finding a boat and people to man it for a rescue when there is already a manned facility on the water. This isn't theory, it's history. It's already happened, and more than once. We've been called away from training missions that quickly turned into actual rescue missions. And, of course if you're practicing co-ordination drills and search patterns you want to be realistic. Operational missions have minimum crew and facility standards. The same standards are required when practicing for the mission as when actually performing the mission. If you're ready for this level of operations, the auxiliary is ready for you. Our flotilla, and the US Coast Guard needs you. Give us a call to get your training started.
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