The Coast Guard is a major presence in Alaska, with at least 3 bases (Juneau, Kodiak & Valdez). For the many fishermen in the area they are essentially when emergencies occur. When we were in Valdez for the 4th of July we were lucky enough to get to watch a demonstration that was put on by the local Coast Guard station. A boat came in and dropped a dummy in the water and then one of their helicopters came and a diver went in after the dummy. Check out the series of photos to get an idea of what the demonstration was about.
The incoming helicopter. If you look closely you can see the water it was flinging from its blades.
In goes the diver for the poor dummy in the water.
Now that the diver has the dummy, the helicopter sends down a basket and the diver puts the dummy in the basket and sends it back to the helicopter.
And finally the diver himself is pulled back up into the helicopter. The amount of skill that each member of this team needs to have is astounding. The pilot held that helicopter still, it might as well have been on the ground. The diver was strong and sure of himself and the team waiting to pull everyone up was right on. I know this was just a demonstration but I now have an even deeper respect for what these men and women do.