'Trying and difficult experience': Milwaukee Coast Guard leaders share perspective on search efforts for Titan submersible

NOW: ’Trying and difficult experience’: Milwaukee Coast Guard leaders share perspective on search efforts for Titan submersible

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The search efforts for the Titan submersible in the Atlantic Ocean highlighted the search and rescue work of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Locally, Coast Guard officials told CBS 58 they are able to relate to the stress and strain of such efforts.

"It's just natural that any person involved in this is taking on a good amount of stress, because we're lifesavers," Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Valdivia, the Commander Center Chief for Sector Lake Michigan of the U.S. Coast Guard told CBS 58. "For this case I imagine that for all those involved it has definitely been trying and a difficult experience."

Valdivia has responded to more than 500 search and rescue cases in his time with the Coast Guard. He and his team grapple with Lake Michigan 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"For Lake Michigan, [it's] over 300 miles long and over 100 wide, it's roughly the size of Massachusetts, Maryland and Delaware combined," Valdivia said. "That definitely presents us our unique sets of challenges."

Those challenges are similar to the obstacles the Coast Guard crews in the Atlantic Ocean faced when searching for the Titan submersible which officials announced was likely lost due to a "catastrophic implosion" underwater, killing the five people on board.

During the search effort, the Coast Guard based in Boston said their search area was twice the size of Connecticut.

To narrow down a search area, Valdivia said the Coast Guard uses several investigative tools and strategies. That includes gathering as much information on where a boat was last seen, where it departed from and if family or friends know other information. They also use other tools.

"We do have computer programs and models that allow us to basically establish a search area where the individual is likely to be," Valdivia said.

The crews use boats to search the area along with other resources.

"We also leverage aviation assets, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft," Valdivia said.

For the Coast Guard in Milwaukee and beyond, the job and duty is filled with triumphs and tragedies.

"Talking to a family member and telling them that we found their loved one, that provides a lot of personal fulfillment and I think that carries at least me and our team through a lot of the hard cases," Valdivia said.

To give the Coast Guard the best chances to find and rescue you in the event of going missing in a large body of water, they recommend taking preventative steps like making sure you go out with high visibility life vests and making sure you have Emergency Radio Indicating Beacons.

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