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“Lucky to be Alive”

How Our Quick-Thinking Team Rescued Kayaker Lost at Sea
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10 March 2022

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

No matter which field you work in or how experienced you are, preparing for even the most unexpected risks is a key element of planning for operational success and, more importantly, ensuring the safety of your team and others.

This was made abundantly clear during a routine inspection of towers near Redwood City in the San Francisco Bay by a Cyberhawk and PG&E team.

The team were inspecting PG&E's assets via airboat around Bair Island when they spotted a kayaker who had become stranded two miles out to sea. It quickly became apparent that the kayaker was in crisis and needed help.

Despite being an experienced kayaker, who was familiar with the area from regular trips out on the bay, the man became disoriented after a rapid change in weather conditions.

Once spotted, the team rushed towards him. On arrival, they quickly took him and his kayak aboard before transporting him back to shore where emergency services personnel were waiting to assess him. He would later be taken for a full check-up at the local hospital. Luckily, he fully recovered.

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Cyberhawk Senior Drone Pilot Ian Gilchrist, who was part of the rescue team, said:

"The chilly weather conditions meant that by the time we found the stranded kayaker, he had become freezing and disoriented. He was lost at sea for several hours at that point and had understandably become very panicked. Our team had to think on their feet and react fast to get the man to safety as quickly as possible. We managed to get him into our boat and back on land in under 15 minutes. He's lucky to be alive."

Andy Montes, a Fremont-based PG&E supervisor in transmission maintenance and construction, said his team focuses each day on how to serve local communities. He said:

"We look at all of the work we do every day through the lens of safety. On a typical day, that means getting eyes on our electric equipment to look for issues that might affect the safety and reliability of our system. On that day, it also meant unexpectedly jumping in to help someone who was struggling in a dangerous situation. We're proud of the quick thinking and the flexibility our inspection crews bring to the job day in and day out."

The incident highlighted the importance of preparedness and assessing risk before undertaking any job.

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Crews from both companies recognize that working in remote, challenging environments, often in difficult terrain or in extreme weather conditions, can bring risks that pose a severe threat to life.

That's why Cyberhawk has built an exceptionally robust, high-quality training program, refined over a decade of experience, creating highly capable, self-reliant and resilient field teams. What's more, our teams carry out risk assessments and pack extra supplies each day before they set foot in the field. This ensures that inspectors have the skills and know-how to work safely in all high-risk situations, regardless of location.

For the kayaker on the bay that chilly day, our preparedness proved to be lifesaving.

If you’re interested in finding out how Cyberhawk can support your project

download your free power grid capabilities overview pack now!