Volunteer Corner: Jay Schmidt, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 1 North Lake Tahoe
Name: Jay SchmidtOrganization: Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 1 North Lake TahoeResidence: Incline VillageTell me a bit about the Coast Guard Auxiliary.The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the volunteer portion of the Coast Guard, formed in 1939, primarily for recreational boater safety. In the late 90s, it was mandated to be able to assist the Coast Guard in its non law enforcement activities. Post 9/11, it has a more active role in patrolling with the Waterway Watch. It encourages the public to be more involved in reporting suspicious activities. This is more prevalent in the Bay Area. There are roughly 28,000 (Coast Guard Auxiliaries) nationwide, with about 25-30 members each.Do you need a nautical background to volunteer?All you need is an interest. There are so many functions, from administration and finance, marketing to public education, in addition to being on a boat. You must be 18 or older. There are many opportunities in the auxiliary, you will find a place.When did you find a place?About three years ago after my wife and I moved to Incline Village. We had both been on boats, and cruised in Mexico, San Francisco. We are familiar with ocean sailing, safety and boat systems. So I found a niche.And what is your niche?I am the Vice Flotilla Commander, which is an elected office. I am also the Flotilla Public Education Officer, which is an appointed position. I organize education classes and teach most of them myself. Our About Boating Safely class this Saturday (June 28) and July 19. We also offer GPS for Mariners, Suddenly in Command, Kayak Safety and How to Read a Nautical Chart.Do boat operators need classes to be legal?California doesnt have an education requirement, unless youve been cited previously. It is one of six states that doesnt have the requirement. Nevada requires the safety class if you were boar after Jan. 1, 1983.What keeps you teaching and volunteering?The response I get from people. Whether its a vessel examination or teaching a class, people appreciate knowing things they didnt know. I enjoy teaching, meeting people, and seeing the positive responses.What kind of boaters tend to need help on the water?Its a big mix, but a large component is the renters market. They are ignorant about conditions, the buoy systems. About 30 percent of the calls we get are people who are lost, and they say, I see trees, I see casinos. We made a map with major landmarks and have them in marinas, marine businesses and visitors centers.What is the most memorable rescue?Hmmm a husband called in his wife was overdue on a kayak. They had paddled from the Hyatt to Sand Harbor and got separated. The husband returned to the Hyatt and then called. We found her in the middle of the lake, it was almost dark. She said No, Im fine, I dont need help. She was headed the wrong way, and didnt realize it would be a three hour paddle.What are the most important safety reminders for boaters?ALWAYS wear your life jackets. Without it your chance of survival is slim.Know the conditions. Just a few days ago the temperature of Lake Tahoe was 56. At temperatures below 60, you can suffer from cold shock. Its what the body does after sudden immersion it takes an involuntary gasp, which can drown you or cause the heart to stop from the cold water in the lungs around the heart. Blood pressure sky rockets. People dont understand how little it takes to get in trouble. There is the 50/50/50 rule. In water thats 50, you have less than a 50 percent chance to swim 50 yardsHow do you like volunteering out of the Tahoe City Coast Guard station?Its wonderful for us this station has one two awards. The relationship to have these guy to train with offers a lot of opportunities. Last season there was a demonstration of all kinds of different flares. And there is the fellowship side, volunteering with the auxiliary gives you access to people with similar interests. You pick up a lot of good friends that way. By the way, Monday was the Auxiliarys 69th anniversary!
The Sierra Suns Amy Edgett interviewed Jay Schmidt for this weeks Volunteer Corner. To volunteer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, call Don Morrison at (775) 831-1564 or visit http://www.northtahoecgaux.org. For volunteer opportunities in the North Tahoe Truckee area, visit http://www.handsontahoe.org.