A coast guard vet raced to save freezing fishermen: I remember my friggin heart pounding

Alone in the darkness, eyes frozen shut, ice cracking off him with each step and a wind howling so viciously it repeatedly knocked him to the ground, an unfamiliar anxiety washed over Leslie Palmer.He’d had more than 20 years with the Canadian Coast Guard, some 700 rescues already to his credit, but this one was different.Palmer felt he was the one in peril.As he trudged along the shore of one of British Columbia’s northern islands, over a treacherous terrain of rock outcrops glazed in sheer ice, his goal was to reach the beached crew of a shrimp boat. The Larissa had emitted a distress signal hours earlier as it capsized in 185 km/h winds. It wasn’t certain there were survivors.But as he worked his way through the driving snow, Palmer was momentarily matched by a late December storm.Article Continued Below“I wondered, jeez, have I pushed my limitations here? Am I making the right decision here? I had concern for myself as well,” Palmer, 43 at the time, recalls of that rescue in 2004.Read more: He saved a woman from a polar bear. ‘Then the mauling was on for me’