United States Coast Guard: Protecting the Shores of Presque Isle Since 1915
Providing security and saving lives, the U.S. Coast Guard has stood watch over Lake Erie for more than 100 years.
Brian Gula serves as an environmental educational specialist at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center and it doesn't take long to realize he has a tremendous passion and sense of history for the U.S. Coast Guard.
"All the rescues, when you look back in time, it's amazing what they've been able to do to really make Presque Isle the place that it is," said Gula.
Chief Warrant Officer Collin Ryan lives in Orchard Park, New York, but spends five days a week working at the Erie station. He has more than 20 years of experience and has worked in locations such as Puerto Rico and Key West, Fla.
"The station, when it was a Life-Saving Service, was first here in 1876," said Ryan. "When the Life-Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service joined in 1915, this became a Coast Guard station. It was number 236. Ever since then, we've been saving lives on Lake Erie, keeping up that maritime tradition of Oliver Hazard Perry and everything that happened before the War of 1812. There's a lot of history in the area and I'm proud to be part of the future."
Training is such an important part of Coast Guard life. Locally, it started in earnest three months ago.
"We'll do tows with the two boats we have here, tows with other agencies," said Ryan. "We also practice our search patterns, man overboard, and make sure we get out there at night and during the day so that we're familiar with the area we're responsible for, and practice casualties on our own boat so that when something happens, we know how to respond."
The U.S. Coast Guard was founded in January 1915, just a few short years before Presque Isle became a state park.
Watch Erie News Now's "Presque Isle Centennial Celebration" special Friday, May 28 at 7 p.m. only on WICU.