When the Coast Guard is sent out on a rescue mission, they must be prepared for any medical emergency they might encounter -- they are like first responders, only on the water.

Members of the Coast Guard are required to know CPR and other emergency response techniques. Operations Petty Officer Michael Sheahan of Coast Guard Grand Haven says that’s because they never know what they may encounter when it comes to a rescue.

"Basically anything from splinting, controlling bleeding, CPR, treating for hypothermia, heat related injuries," he said. "Broken bones, compound fractures -- they learn how to stabilize a person.”

The Coast Guard will respond to a rescue in less than five minutes. They maintain constant contact with the boat so they can determine just how serious the medical situation might be. That way they know if they need to respond by boat or helicopter.

"If a fisherman had a heart attack 50 miles off shore, what would be our course of action for that?” asked Sheahan.

Each boat is equipped with any emergency supplies they may need -- and they take refresher courses every six months to make sure they know the latest in emergency response techniques.

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