SAN FRANCISCO BAY – Fleet Week is an exciting time in the Bay Area, and it gets very busy out on the water during the festivities. The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the agencies that works hard to keep everyone safe during the week.
Petty Officers Garrett Burris and Casey Kastendiek take pride in what they do, as coxswains with the Coast Guard. KPIX 5 met the two as they carried out the critical task of making sure their boat was stocked up and in shape for their next mission.
"We always have to be mission ready. When we get a search and rescue call we're on the boat within several minutes running down here and taking off," Burris said. "That's not the time to be making sure that we have all of our equipment."
Their missions vary.
"Kind of a jack-of-all-trades unit," Kastendiek said. "One minute we could be doing law enforcement, the next we're doing certain dangerous cargo escorts in and out of the bay. And then from that, we can jump straight into search and rescue."
It's been those calls that confirmed these men had found their purpose.
"It was probably the first time I saved two lives, I realized I had made the right decision," Burris said.
"I'm one of the EMTs at this unit trained for increased levels of specialized care for search and rescue operations," Kastendiek said. "Two individuals were gravely wounded. We went in and were able to medically evacuate them and get them to urgent care. They were able to make a full recovery. It was definitely that, this is it moment."
Kastendiek said the San Francisco station is one of the Coast Guard's busiest small boat stations. That will certainly be the case during Fleet Week.
"It's great," Burris said. "Not only are we out there conducting operations and making sure people are out there safely boating, but we get to watch the show as well. So, it's a fun time."
A fun time, for two men who are passionate being protectors of the Bay, and beyond.
"I love being able to give back to my community, make a difference, help out different groups of people, and the excitement that comes with each day," Kastendiek said.
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