The Coast Guardsmen of Station Cape Charles are used to responding to disasters at sea. On July 24 that changed as they scrambled to a scene where only their training, teamwork and devotion to duty could help them respond to a disaster ashore.
Crewmembers on duty were just beginning their physical training when several members heard their phones go off in unison. A tornado had just touched down in a popular campground nearby and ripped through the rows of trailers and tents. It was over as quickly as it started, but not before it left a wake of destruction, upturning campers and tents.
“Once I knew the storm passed, I made sure my family was safe, and I knew where I had to go,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Schadt as he headed out the door of his home responding in his private vehicle.
Back at the station Senior Chief Petty Officer David Stone and Petty Officer 1st Class Blake Marino, who was still in his physical training shorts and tennis shoes, responded as well. Both arrived shortly behind Schadt who was already in a fire pit used as a makeshift trauma staging area, and he was helping to stabilize a compound fracture of a leg and tending to another patient with severe bruising on his back.
Recalling the event in their minds the day after, Schadt said, "Treating them for shock was most important” and I guess I just relied on my training.”
Marino added, "Cape Charles is a small town, and we are their small boat station. We are all family, and we look after each other."
The crewmembers of Station Cape Charles and their quick action to aiding those involved in the disaster are credited with improving the condition of several patients due to their quick actions.
Along with aiding in reuniting two children with their parents, they also helped organize transportation to the shelters for all affected.