A rise on false distress calls in the Great Lakes region - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

A rise on false distress calls in the Great Lakes region

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There has been an increase in false distress calls within the Great Lakes. According to U.S. Coast Guard, more than 160 false distress calls have been this year alone compare that to 55 total in 2016.


It's a serious matter says the United States Coast guard. 
Specifically, the Bayfield Coast Guard has seen an alarming trend of false distress calls.


"We've had three false distress calls in the past couple weeks," said Petty Officer Third Class, Andrew Thompson.


The 2 six-person crew work 72 hours on and off. 
Along with doing paperwork and their daily routine lake checks on their vessels, the crew sits and listens to the channel 16 scanner.

Andrew Thompson has been involved with the Coast Guard for 6 years and he says he doesn't know why people call-in with fake situations.


"I have no idea... maybe some people like to play the victim.. or just like to see how we respond," said Thompson.


Whatever the reason is, Thompson says the matter of life or death weighs heavy on his mind.


"It is a scary thing because if we have to go out for somebody who doesn't need help and somebody does, and somebody does lose their life that's something that weighs heavy on us," said Thompson.

Thompson says the Coast Guard takes every call seriously and have to perform their proper protocol to everyone even if they're false.


"We normally stay around for a few hours, conduction search patterns looking for anything in the water," said Thompson.


If someone's caught for calling a false emergency they could be responsible for restitution for the Coast Guard along with paying a hefty fine.

"That's actually a felony in the eyes of the federal government and that carries up to a $5,000 fine," said Thompson.


Thompson says even though false distress calls do happen from time-to-time he still urges people to call if they need help. 

"Every call that we get is urgent for us... it's a matter of life or death and we are going to do everything we can to help people," said Thompson.


According to the U. S Coast Guard, the average cost of launching a Coast Guard response boat is around $4,500.

If you or someone you know makes an accidental distress call, you're urged to call
your local Coast Guard immediately that way rescue units can stand down.  
 

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