Well folks, it’s been a rough week. We said goodbye to our beloved Sunny girl last Thursday, Sweetie and I took care of each other and cuddled kittens until Sunday night, when we logged on to facebook around 10pm and saw the above photo.
This boat has been a fixture around town for years. As I read the first news articles, I learned that 27 people on this whale watching boat had been dumped into the ocean when it capsized. Out here, if you’re tossed into the ocean you have minutes, not hours. 27 people. Our hospital ER has 5 beds.
I’ve written vaguely before about our “code orange” preparations; vaguely because I didn’t want to accidentally cross some line about writing about my workplace on a personal blog – but it’s no secret we are the leaders in emergency preparedness in our organization and we’re determined to do our best in a disaster.
This is the first time in the four years since we started this training that we had a true “code orange” scenario, and it had a huge impact on the whole community. The exercises and training help a lot, but the emotions and energy present during and after an event like this is overwhelming and difficult to describe.
What’s most incredibly moving to me, is that the single distress flare the crew of the capsized vessel managed to fire off, was spotted completely coincidentally by Ken Brown, local fisherman and member of the First Nations Ahoushat community, who just happened to be in that area.
If Ken had not seen that flare, gone to help and called in the distress, every one of those people could have died. I call that divine intervention.
Every once in a while, it comes up during a session that a person is easily “tapped” to help when it’s needed. I call these folks “earth angels”. A lot of the time, earth angels are “Rafters” – they’re humans who incarnate with a life plan that looks more like a slogan or motto, rather than a detailed plan. Sometimes people plan “earth angel” years or decades into their life. I think we all have this potential, to hear the call when we’re needed. Our whole purpose in life, at that moment, is to be tapped.
This is very frustrating for some people who don’t like the sensation of rafting. They want more security and grounding. They want to know where they’re going. (I may be one of those people!) But there’s a lesson in learning how to raft for a while, and the impact of your actions usually isn’t as obvious as pulling people from the water. Sometimes it’s giving a person in need a ride, or a meal, or an ear – just doing what comes next. You can’t know how your actions impacted the lives of others until you’re on the other side yourself.
I think these heroes are very special people. They were tapped, maybe they answered a call on a spiritual level. “Don’t fish there, fish over here. Turn your head right now, look.”
The men who pulled people from the water were not trained rescue workers, they’re just good, kind, people. By the time the coast guard arrived, they’d saved everyone who could be saved. Despite how incredibly well they did, the men mourn the people they didn’t, and couldn’t, save.
So I’d like to ask you folks to please send lots of love to Ken Brown, Clarence Smith and Peter Frank Jr.
I wasn’t on site on Sunday night, but on Monday morning everyone was starting to feel it. The shock was sinking in. My understanding is that tonight, the Ahoushat people will come together in a healing circle. I’m going to send my love, I hope you will too.