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Eckerd College Search And Rescue Team Celebrates 40 Years Of Outstanding Service

Rep. C. W. Bill Young

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Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize the 40th Anniversary of the Eckerd College Search and Rescue (EC-SAR) team, one of the most unique and successful programs of its kind anywhere in our nation.

It is a privilege for me to represent Eckerd College and to have seen first hand the outstanding work of the students, faculty and staff who run the search and rescue program. Eckerd is a beautiful small private waterfront college with not only a tremendous academic reputation but also one as a leader in water sports and water activities.

The Search and Rescue Program was started by a group of students in 1971 to provide safety services for the college's water sports activities. By 1977, the program had become so successful and had attracted so much interest that it expanded to provide routine and emergency search and rescue services to the Tampa Bay boating community. Since then, the students; who are trained in technical rescue, boating safety, seamanship, searching, fire fighting, de- watering, navigation, medical response, and piloting rescue vessels; have worked side by side with the United States Coast Guard and a multitude of state and local agencies to save lives and rescue stranded boaters. In fact, the Eckerd Search and Rescue team was one of the first units to respond to a disastrous shipping accident in 1980 which destroyed one span of the massive Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Mr. Speaker, the students and staff of Eckerd College give back to our community many times over through this superb program. They receive and respond to more than 500 calls per year and throughout the program's history have handled over 15,000 calls for assistance. This weekend, many of the program's organizers and volunteers from the past 40 years will gather to celebrate the history and accomplishments of this unique and valuable program. It is my hope that my colleagues in the House will join me in saying thank you to all those who have been a part of the Eckerd College Search and Rescue program for a job well done.