Volunteer organization to receive second-highest public service award
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (September 3, 2019) – The U.S. Coast Guard St. Petersburg Sector Commander will present the Meritorious Public Service Award to the Eckerd College Search and Rescue (EC-SAR) team during an on-campus ceremony at 5 p.m., Monday, September 9, at the Eckerd College Waterfront Complex, 4200 54th Avenue South, St. Petersburg FL 33711.
The award, which is the second-highest honor bestowed by the military branch, is given to recognize unusual courage in advancing a Coast Guard mission, substantial contributions to the Coast Guard that produced tangible results and specific individual accomplishments that provide a unique benefit to the public.
Eckerd College Search and Rescue (EC-SAR) is the nation’s only year-round, 24-hour, daily, volunteer, maritime aid organization almost exclusively staffed by undergraduate students. Founded in 1971 to provide safety services for the College’s watersports activities, the program extended its rescue services to the Tampa Bay boating community six years later. Student volunteers respond to more than 500 maritime distress calls annually—providing free services including towing; dewatering vessels; firefighting; pulling vessels from aground; Pinellas County 911 Basic Life Support; and search and rescue services for missing persons, overdue vessels and people who fall from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and other bridges. In 2012, EC-SAR developed a search pattern for locating people in the water surrounding the Skyway Bridge, which increased the success of finding survivors and remains and has been acknowledged by the U.S. Coast Guard National Search and Rescue School as well as several local emergency response agencies.