Keith Madding, a member of the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU), the ILWU’s Marine Division, rescued a man who was struggling to stay afloat in the waters outside of San Francisco Bay. Madding was working on a tugboat named “Guard” during the early morning of October 31. The tugboat was outside the Golden Gate Bridge, waiting to escort a tanker. Perry Overton, captain of the Guard, noticed the man treading water a little more than a mile and a half from the bridge. The crew tossed the man a life ring and Chief Engineer Madding donned a survival suit and entered the 55 degree waters to help the fatigued man climb the Guard’s emergency ladder. Once aboard, the crew removed the hypothermic man’s wet clothing and wrapped him in warm blankets until the Coast Guard arrived and could perform other lifesaving treatments. “These guys are heroes and without a doubt saved that man’s life. In the 20-plus years of my career, I have never seen such a professional rescue by non-professional-rescuers,” said Ranger Shannon Jay of the National Park Service at Golden Gate National Parks in the San Francisco Bay area. He added, the event should be considered “a tribute to the training they received and also to the crew for quickly and diligently using their training. They are true heroes.”
The crew of the Guard have been nominated by the National Park Service for a Citizen’s Award for Bravery, which is an honor awarded by the Secretary of the Interior in Washington DC. The Guard, is a part of Crowley’s marine services fleet. The crew is fully trained to respond to a variety of incidents. In addition to meeting defined regulatory training requirements, the company’s crewmembers participate annually in the a custom training event designed exclusively for mariners. The program provides training in cold-water survival tactics, shipboard firefighting, medical incidents and other relevant topics that give the mariners the skills and confidence they need to respond to emergency situations.
“We value training, but it was Keith’s good judgment and many years of maritime experience that made the difference this time,” said Marina Secchitano, IBU Regional Director in San Francisco.