Sheriff William Honsal presented three Shelter Cove firefighters with Life-Saving Awards today for their acts of bravery and exceptional leadership during a perilous ocean rescue and recovery last year.
Honored today were Shelter Cove Fire Captain and Jet Ski Operator Jac Hargrave, Shelter Cove and off-duty Cal Fire Firefighter/Rescue Swimmer Josh Ramsay, and Shelter Cove Fire Apparatus Engineer/BLM Fire Captain George "Angus" Chambers.
On May 29, 2022, the Shelter Cove Ocean Rescue Team was dispatched to a call regarding two hikers, later identified as BLM employees, who were swept into the ocean off Black Sands Beach.
Captain Jac Hargrove, the senior ocean rescue operator that day, and Josh Ramsay, the rescue swimmer, worked as a team to successfully operate a malfunctioning jet ski in 15-20 foot waves for 3 miles from the Shelter Cove Marina to the Split Rock area on Black Sands Beach. Captain Hargrave could have made the decision to cancel the rescue attempt at any time due to the risk to him, Ramsay or his equipment, however, with no other resources in the area he knew that they were the victims’ only chance at survival. After the first victim was successfully rescued from the surf zone, Captain Hargrove and Ramsay made the difficult decision to take the malfunctioning jet ski back into the surf zone to recover the second victim who showed no signs of life. The two knew that there was a substantial risk of injury or loss of equipment going back in after the second victim, however, both decided that any chance of survival or recovering the victim for their family was worth the risk.
BLM Fire Captain George "Angus" Chambers, who is also a Shelter Cove Volunteer Fire Officer, was instrumental taking over command of both the May 29 rescue and an additional rescue of victims of a small plane crash on July 8. Captain Chambers’ ability to organize rescue resources, keep an eye on the victims in the water and keep others, including friends of the victims and other BLM employees, out of the water was astounding. Captain Chambers went above and beyond his duties and expectations as a wildland fire captain for the BLM. Without his leadership and guidance, both rescues could not have happened.
The Shelter Cove Ocean Rescue Team was established in the early 2000’s and is one of the few volunteer ocean rescue teams in the state. The team trains once a month, rain or shine. Between 2022-2023, the ocean rescue team pulled six people out of the water during four different incidents, all but one surviving and making full recoveries.
To learn more, volunteer with or support the Shelter Cove Fire Department, visit https://sheltercove-ca.gov/fire-dept/.
To learn how you can get involved or support Sheriff’s Office and/or other public safety programs, visit: https://humboldtgov.org/2657/Volunteer.
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