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How To Call Safe/Sea For Assistance


Correct Procedures Result in a Faster Response


After last season, our busiest ever at Safe/Sea, with just under 1,100 calls for assistance, I thought that our caseload was about as high as it could get. But with over 4,300 members this year, and the forecast of a very warm summer, we may well top that.

Imagine yourself in a 10' by 12' room with 5 radios, 4 phone lines, and 4 computers. A member calls you on the radio for help. As you're collecting their information, the phone rings, and another call comes in on another radio. Unit 1 is calling you on the dispatch radio and your primary computer crashes. Now, imagine you’re alone! Welcome to the Safe/Sea Dispatch Center.

This is just a written sample of what it's like to be one of our watchstanders on a busy summer weekend. The Dispatch Center is the heart of our operation. Virtually every call for help goes through the watchstander either by radio or telephone.

Detailed computer records for every case are generated by the watchstander. The captains on the boats also get their times and billing info from the dispatcher upon completion of each case.

The watchstander must know the location of all our resources and maintain proper positioning throughout our coverage area.

In 2000, we set a company record for the most assistance runs in one day with 44 calls on the Sunday of the exceptionally busy Fourth of July weekend. When you consider that we run six boats, and the average call is between 1.5 and 2 hours with some much longer, well... you can do the math. Needless to say, it makes for a long day.

To help our members and our dispatchers work together more efficiently, we would like to pass the following information on to our customers.

If you do not have an emergency, we prefer that you call for assistance on a cellular phone. It allows an uninterrupted conversation directly with our watchstander. However, it’s important that you know your cell phone number, so we can call you back if the call is dropped. If you do not have a cellular phone, please contact us on VHF radio channel 16.

Regardless of the ease of cell phone use, we stress the need for all boaters to know how to properly use their VHF radio. In an emergency, or if your phone is out of range, the VHF radio will assure that your call is heard by the largest number of people simultaneously.

When calling, speak loudly and be sure that you call Safe/Sea by name! Even today, some people still call the wrong company for assistance. Remember, if you call the wrong company, you may be responsible for their towing bill.

Once communications have been established, you will be asked to shift to a working channel, where we will ask for your location. It’s helpful to have your membership number handy; on your membership card it appears as SS#xxxx.

Your Membership number is very important, as it is the single fastest way for our watchstander to locate you in our computers, confirm your membership status, and get a boat underway to assist you.

If you are broken down, please anchor your vessel unless it is unsafe to do so. The Safe/Sea watchstander will ask your exact position, the nature of your problem, and confirm that you are anchored.

If you are traveling to unfamiliar areas, please have a chart on board, look it over before you leave, and know how to describe your position.

If you do not know your exact location, you should attempt to flag down another vessel for location assistance and take note of the color and number of any bouys near you.

Once your membership has been confirmed and your destination and the description of your vessel has been ascertained, you will be given the name of the vessel that is coming to assist you and its estimated time of arrival.

The towboat Captain will then directly communicate with you and the dispatcher will return to channel 16.

Please help our watchstander to help you by having all your information available and knowing your location. This will ensure a timely response and a rapid resolution to your problem.
60 Reynolds Street
Wickford, RI 02852
24 Hour Dispatch: 401-295-8711