Home Emergency Management News How the Coast Guard's Summer Stock Program Provides Safety and Border Protection on the Great Lakes

How the Coast Guard's Summer Stock Program Provides Safety and Border Protection on the Great Lakes

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By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Military University

As a member of the Department of Homeland Security and the nation’s leading maritime law enforcement and search and rescue service, the U.S. Coast Guard plays an important role in the Great Lakes. This area is home to more than 30 million people (10 percent of the nation’s population).

The increase in boating traffic during the summer months substantially increases the daily demands on the Coast Guard’s District Nine, which includes all five of the Great Lakes.

For example, on July 1, a reservist participating in Summer Stock from Station Marblehead was in the boat crew that was instrumental in a search and rescue effort on Lake Erie.  A canoe overturned nearly a mile off shore tossing four people into the water without life jackets.

To compound the problem, two people tried to swim out to them and they began to struggle, too. All six were rescued thanks to the coordination of the active duty and reserve boat crews.

Last year, an all-reserve boat crew at Station Rochester, New York, rescued four people from a sinking vessel. In another emergency response, Reservists in the Summer Stock program assigned to Station Sackets Harbor, N.Y., helped rescue two persons from a sinking boat in Lake Ontario.

Throughout the Great Lakes, Summer Stock reserve members are serving vital roles as boat coxswains who are in charge of Coast Guard small vessels and boarding team members. These reserve members frequently respond to search and rescue emergencies throughout the Great Lakes.

For example, Coast Guard units executed 1,837 search and rescue operations on the Great Lakes and 14,252 vessel law enforcement boardings, more than in any other Coast Guard district.

Summer Stock Voluntary Recall Program Bolsters District Nine Operations

coast guard
Coast Guard rescue crew in Lake Erie (including active duty and Summer Stock reserve personnel) rescue someone following a canoe's capsizing. Credit: Jarrod Sadulski

To successfully execute its mission during the summer, the Coast Guard relies on an important program called Summer Stock. This program involves the voluntary recall of Coast Guard Reservists to support District Nine operations, which encompass 6,700 miles of shoreline and 1,500 miles of the border with Canada.

The Summer Stock program typically runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day and serves as an important force multiplier for the Coast Guard. Reserve members who volunteer augment active-duty servicemembers at numerous Coast Guard stations throughout the Great Lakes.

The Reservists have the same boat crew and law enforcement qualifications as their active duty counterparts and they commonly fill duty section roles. Duty sections provide twenty-four hour search and rescue and law enforcement coverage where active duty and reserve members remain at the units to be ready to deploy within their area of responsibility. They also increase the local units’ abilities to respond to emergencies and conduct law enforcement boardings.

Summer Stock Reserve personnel are especially useful. They arrive at their temporary units fully prepared in terms of military readiness and equipment and have the ability to quickly integrate into daily station operations. The volunteers perform the same duties as active Coast Guard personnel, including boat coxswains, boarding officers, engineers and boat crew members.

Coast Guard Station Marblehead on Lake Erie the Busiest on the Five Lakes

A good example of a successfully integrated Summer Stock program is the Coast Guard Station Marblehead on Lake Erie, the busiest station on the Great Lakes. Each Reserve member at Station Marblehead is a fully certified coxswain and participates in the station’s daily operations.

Some of the Coast Guard Reservists join the duty sections that respond to emergencies 24 hours a day. Another Reservist is assigned as a member of Station Marblehead’s Law Enforcement Team, increasing public safety in the region.

The Summer Stock program provides an important resource for District Nine. The skill sets and training that Reserve members bring to the program serve as valuable tools to meet the demands placed on all Coast Guard units around the Great Lakes.

About the Author

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski has been with the Coast Guard since 1997. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security, contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering. He has also received commendations from the Coast Guard. Currently, Jarrod is a supervisor in the Reserve Program and provides leadership to Reserve members who conduct homeland security, search and rescue, and law enforcement missions. Dr. Sadulski is participating in the 2018 Summer Stock Program at Station Marblehead, Ohio.