Monday, February 27, 2017

Water Search And Rescue Training At Millerton Lake

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

Well, I headed to Millerton Lake today for another opportunity to photograph eagles and other birds. This is an unintended story of photographing another kind of “bird”.
I was up by the Historic Millerton Lake Courthouse when a giant orange and white helicopter from the Lemoore Naval Air Station began to hover above what initially looked like a boat full of fishermen. I thought at the time that someone was in trouble and they were there to help.
As it turned out it was the Navy Search And Rescue team practicing water extraction with the boat group as a part of the team. It seemed like a good opportunity to take some photographs with the lens I usually use for birds.
As someone retired from the Fresno County Search And Rescue Mountaineering Unit, I was quite interested in the process and of course disappointed that this activity was for much younger men than me. We swim 6 months out of the year at Millerton Lake and I can appreciate the fact that the water temperature was about 55 degrees.
I guessed they might be done around noon and saw the helicopter land on the former dam parking area. Their truck and boat trailer was up at the top of the boat ramp so I knew the group in the boat would be coming up from that direction.
I drove down to the dock area and greeted the men and told them that I had photographed them and would it be OK to put the photographs on my blog. I nervously laughed when they said that now that I had photographs, they would have to kill me. Actually the thought had already crossed my mind thinking they might be members of a secret SEAL team practicing. I also offered them copies of the photographs and I got contact information from Zachary.
They don’t just serve as a Search and Rescue team for Naval operations. They are involved in rescues statewide. I remember them being at one of our Fresno County searches near Wishon Reservoir. Zach mentioned they had airlifted an injured firefighter out of there more recently.

Thanks men, I enjoyed watching the practice, display of teamwork and skills and hopefully many more will now enjoy it via the photographs. 

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