UPDATE: Water-rescue callout at Alki Beach

7:56 PM: Seattle Fire has a water-rescue response headed by land and sea to Alki Beach at 60th SW for a possible missing kiteboarder. Police are on scene, says the dispatcher, and so far they are seeing the board but no one with it.

8:05 PM UPDATE: SFD says the kiteboarder returned safely to shore. They’re canceling the callout.

17 Replies to "UPDATE: Water-rescue callout at Alki Beach"

  • Mike June 20, 2021 (8:17 pm)

    16 units dispatched, including several fire boats that probably were not yet there when callout was cancelled. Your tax dollars at work.

    • Herongrrrl June 20, 2021 (9:13 pm)

      And if it had been for someone you care about, would that matter? That’s what taxes are for.

    • Curious June 20, 2021 (9:20 pm)

      Their salaries get paid even if they’re not on a callout. They’re paid to be available.

    • Alki resident June 20, 2021 (9:36 pm)

      Would your tax dollars be an issue had it been your family member? 

    • Lamont June 20, 2021 (10:48 pm)

      They treat going into the water to rescue someone as seriously as going into a burning building, because rescuers in water can become victims in a minute or two if things go wrong.  The size of the callout is because the few people who are going to be attempting the actual rescue need the entire support staff in case they have a bad day at work.

  • Terry June 20, 2021 (9:39 pm)

    I can get behind our tax dollars being spent on saving a life.

    • Mike June 20, 2021 (10:53 pm)

      What makes me care is that these units are not available for other calls.  

      • WSB June 20, 2021 (11:42 pm)

        Of the 16 units initially dispatched, the incident page shows:

        -Only one (Engine 29, based in North Admiral) actually arrived at Alki and spent 14 minutes on the call from dispatch to dismissal
        -11 were dismissed 9 minutes after dispatch
        -1 was dismissed 3 minutes after dispatch
        -1 was dismissed 5 minutes after dispatch
        -1 was dismsised 6 minutes after dispatch
        -1 was dismissed 8 minutes after dispatch

      • Curious June 21, 2021 (12:46 am)

        Sounds like the system works as it should and well managed, resources were not wasted–only active for mere minutes–once it was known they were not needed. But, they are not a waste of tax dollars as they need to be available. Nice to have the facts, thanks WSB.

      • Wren June 21, 2021 (6:08 am)

        That’s not how it works. If something else happens during an even like this, they divert people from one call to the other. If it’s a busy time,  they make people available when they need to.

  • scubafrog June 20, 2021 (11:33 pm)

    Well done SFD and SPD!  And thank goodness these august professionals are willing to show up en masse (without fretting about tax dollars) to save members of our community.

  • Dan June 21, 2021 (12:36 am)

    So basically most of these units were on the call for less than 10 minutes when someone was potentially in danger? Doesn’t seem like much of a waste. Can you let us know what an appropriate size, time and budget is for response to a call where life is at risk? 

    • JohnW June 21, 2021 (9:44 am)

      Good question Dan.  
      Only hindsight can answer the response question.  
      But to be fair, your reasoning leaves out the possibility of other ‘life at risk’ calls and the increased risk of life to other members of the public when the SFD is deployed away from its ‘base’ and compromised in its normal response time.  

      • What Do I Know June 21, 2021 (5:47 pm)

        Oh good grief, if there was a second (or third) life at risk event some of those dispatched would be redirected to that one. These types of scenarios have surely been taken into account, and not by Monday morning quarterbacking. 

  • Eddie June 21, 2021 (7:38 am)

    Seems like Kite Boarders are frequently the source of “false” water rescue call outs.Is there anything we can learn from that?  The folks that call these in are well intentioned, but all too often uninformed about how kiteboarding works.

    • newnative June 21, 2021 (10:21 am)

      I don’t know that this was a false call. they found a board without a person.  A false call is when someone mistakes paper bags for fallen parachuters. 

  • Old Paddle June 21, 2021 (9:07 am)

    An element missing from these water rescue responses is the dramatic increase.
    Beyond WSB reporting them, just look out over Puget Sound and see dozens of SUPs, kayaks, and variety of wind powered boards.  
    Many of these are inexperienced and unaware of water safety.  

    Yesterday I witnessed ‘good samaritans’ in a rowing skiff pulling three women on their SUPs who had been blown off course.  They had no PFDs over their bikinis.  They had no safety equipment save the waterproof cell phone bag on a lanyard.  They were lucky and expressed gratitude to the two guys in a rowing skiff that came to their aid.  I don’t believe these women who called a “paddle” an “oar” were even aware of the dangers they were in before being rescued.  They were paddling off the new bulkhead and driven south by the prevailing winds/currents (always paddle up-wind , not down!).

    As these water rescues increase, it seems logical to explore a better response than sending a dozen SFD Units, taking them off-line and further away from their staging bases that are established for response to local emergencies.  
    The other issue is what do all of those firefighters do while on the beach?  The emergency being offshore, there is little the dozens of SFD units can do but spectate.
    It males sense for Seattle to establish some sort of small boat rescue unit patrolling this popular seaside.  

    I would like  the water-craft rental outfits to step up to their responsibilities when renting to inexperienced paddlers.  
    Maybe they could contribute to a water safety unit?

    Why wait for a death by drowning?

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