July 2007

A First-Hand Look At Life Saving

By Jim Allen
AZBW Publisher

It was my good fortune to attend an important media event presented by Arizona Game & Fish Department on June 25 at Lake Pleasant .

Demonstrations brought four life-saving topics to the attention of members of the area media, with the goal of getting the safety message out to as many Arizona boaters as possible.

We often say that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” If that is true, then demonstrations are worth thousands more. And, that was the case on that pre-July Fourth morning as experts from AZGFD presented safety scenarios and gave advice on four of the most important factors of boating safety:

•  The importance of using a properly sized and fitted life jacket for children and adults: what to look for before purchasing a life jacket; examples of numerous life jackets in all colors and sizes, including the latest comfortable and trendy inflatable life jackets available on the market today.

Reporters could hear a testimonial about a double drowning, be allowed to try on life jackets and inflate or use an inflatable life jacket in or out of the water;, and interview children and adults showcasing size and fit of life jackets.

•  What to look for to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning : useful tips showing a boat's engine exhaust, identification of best ventilated areas in which to sit inside a boat, how various wind conditions can affect the air you breathe, how boat congestion can create carbon monoxide poisoning, and the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Reporters could hear a testimonial about a carbon-monoxide poisoning fatality, board and take a ride on a private or law enforcement boat, interview boaters and law enforcement on the lake, test the exhaust and air around a boat using a CO monitor.

•  The importance of not operating a boat while intoxicated : Operating Under the Influence (OUI) laws have similar penalties as driving a car when intoxicated. OUI checkpoints and law enforcement agency wolf packs are scheduled throughout the boating season on Arizona 's waterways.

Reporters could hear the testimony of a family who lost their granddaughter to a drunk boater, test drive a boat while wearing “fatal vision” goggles that simulate vision impairment due to the effects of alcohol.

•  The detrimental affects of boater inexperience : the minimum age to operate a boat (12 years-old in Arizona ), knowing the basics before launching your boat, the availability of boating safety/education classes.

Reporters could hear from a personal watercraft manufacturer on advances in the boating industry (speed, horsepower, test drive a Kawasaki personal watercraft, board or take a ride on a private or law enforcement boat, interview boaters and law enforcement on the lake.

Key personnel involved in this safety event for the media were Kevin Bergersen, Arizona Boating Law Administrator, AZGFD; Judge Lex Anderson, Maricopa County Superior Court; Teresa Guillen, Public Information Officer, AZGFD; Dana McGehee, AZGFD Officer; Ed Huntsman, Boating Education Program Manager, AZGFD; Kelley Fowke, Boating Education Coordinator, AZGFD; Paul Newman, Regional Boating Safety Program Specialist, U.S. Coast Guard 11 th District; Peoria Fire Department, Roger Hagie, Public Affairs Director, Kawasaki Motors Corporation; Dr. Rebecca Hsu, Forensics Pathologist; Joy Clift, Emmett Kersey and family, and children.

Equipment available for demonstrations and additional footage included a 22-foot Boston Whaler, Kawasaki jet skis, kayaks, an AZGFD law-enforcement boat, life jackets, OUI command post, CO monitor, and “fatal vision” goggles.

IN FOR LIFE -- Shown at the Lake Pleasant 10-Lane Ramp are some of the personnel who brought four major life-saving topics to the attention of area media, with the goal of getting out the safety message to as many Arizona boaters as possible: from left, Debbie Huntsman, Kelley Fowke, Judge Lex Anderson (in boat), and members of the Peoria Fire Department. Also shown are reporters from the Arizona Republic and Fox News 10.