KINGSTON — Fire commissioners from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue started their regular meeting Nov. 28 with a brief ceremony of gratitude and recognition. Josh Sluys of Kingston and Rod Jensen of Poulsbo brought five teens back to shore after their makeshift raft broke apart in the strong currents and frigid waters off of Point No Point last July.
Sluys and Jensen happened to be at the beach when NKF&R crews were dispatched to the location at 6:18 p.m. on July 27, after several callers phoned 911 to report the problem. The five were apparently being carried away by the current, and the cold water was sapping their ability to swim effectively. While crews from NKF&R’s Kingston stations responded to the marina for the district’s fire-rescue boat, the district’s Hansville crew was at the beach within eight minutes of dispatch. Upon firefighters’ arrival, the teens were already safe on shore – thanks to Sluys and Jensen.
According to sources such as the United States Coast Guard, the two rescuers were right to assume that the teens didn’t have much more time. Although all five were strong swimmers, they’d been in the water long enough to begin experiencing the effects of cold water immersion. In Puget Sound’s waters which average between 44 and 51 degrees Farenheit, the ability to swim or tread water can be compromised quickly as the victim starts to lose muscle coordination. In statements to firefighters immediately following their rescue, several of the teens expressed surprise at how quickly their swimming skills began to fail.
NKF&R Board of Commissioners Chairman Steve Neupert presented each of the men with a certificate that described their heroic efforts that day. One of the men’s family members, knowing that both are avid sportsmen, got Silverdale’s Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters to donate two $25 gift cards as additional reward for Sluys and Jensen. NKF&R firefighters are opening up their personal pockets to provide the two with gift cards from Silver City Restaurant and Brewery.
All five teens and some of their families were also present for the event, and the teens demonstrated their heartfelt and genuine thanks to the rescuers with cards, candy, handshakes and hugs.