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Operation Rescue: Behind the scenes with the U.S. Coast Guard
MILWAUKEE- It's the Coast Guard's job to keep everyone on Lake Michigan safe and risk their own lives to rescue them.
The Coast Guard's Lake Michigan section is based in Milwaukee.
They cover from Port Washington all the way to Wind Point, about a 50 mile stretch.
They often deal with unpredictable scenarios in an unstable environment.
"Water is an interesting element, it can be your friend, it can be your worst enemy," BM2C Trey Helms, U.S. Coast Guard, explained.
The Coast Guard also intensely trains for the situations for when things do go wrong and says teamwork is a major factor to success.
So far in 2012, there have been 16 deaths on Lake Michigan and 480 response cases.
The Coast Guard says that they are on pace to double the response cases number.
In 2011 there were 43 deaths, before that, in 2010, there were 66.
Rescue 21 is a tool used by the Coast Guard that they hope will cut down on deaths and response cases.
Rescue 21 is a network of 18 towers positioned around Lake Michigan designed to target trouble on the water.
In a lot of the cases where people do need to be rescued, the Coast Guard says it comes down to things like not enough life jackets on board.
In 2011, in boat drowning, 84 percent of the people who died were not wearing life jackets, the highest level since 1998.