Coast Guard reservists are required to serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year. One New Jersey-based reservist is devoted to saving lives, in and out of military uniform. Chief Petty Officer Jay McChesney, a reservist from Coast Guard Station Manasquan Inlet, N.J., is a qualified coxswain and a registered nurse.
Aside from being a coxswain, McChesney is a boarding team member, boarding officer, station emergency medical technician and the unit’s senior enlisted reserve adviser.
“I have about 16 people in my charge and I handle all aspects of their care – family issues, medical, dental – and ensure they are up to speed with insurance,” said McChesney. “ I still manage to get underway and be a coxswain so I am still fully certified. Not bad for an old man!”
As a reservist, McChesney’s many duties at the station are a part-time job. McChesney works full time at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J. He started his career at the hospital working as an emergency room nurse. Now, a member of the hospital’s special procedures unit, McChesney manages critical situations and specializes in patient care.
“Jay’s military and emergency room background make him a tremendous asset to our department,” said Amy Jablonski, Special Procedures operations manager. “He manages critical situations with ease and is a resource of knowledge for other staff members.”
Jablonski says McChesney puts everyone around him at ease with his ability to relate to patients and use humor in difficult situations.
“He is dedicated, compassionate and highly skilled. I feel privileged to work with him,” she added.
In addition to his commitment to the Coast Guard station and the hospital, McChesney also works part time as a flight nurse for Atlantic Health at Morristown Memorial Hospital in Morristown, N.J.
“I work in the northern part of the state and fly up there basically every Friday,” said McChesney. “That is a completely separate job.”
McChesney is no stranger to in-flight patient care. He started his Coast Guard service as an active duty member who eventually became a helicopter rescue swimmer. McChesney said serving as a rescue swimmer provided great experience for a flight nurse because of his familiarity of working in an aircraft.
When McChesney left active duty in 1998 he became a reservist boatswain’s mate assigned to Station Manasquan Inlet where he moved up through the ranks and became a chief petty officer.
“I most definitely use the lessons that were taught to me by the chiefs who have come before me: take care of your people — happy workers are better producers,” said McChesney. “I learned everything in regard to leadership from the Coast Guard.”
Chief Warrant Officer Michael Mahoney, commanding officer of Station Manasquan Inlet, said McChesney is a highly respected chief petty officer and an invaluable asset.
“Chief McChesney’s attitude and outstanding work ethic is the driving force behind so many of Station Manasquan Inlet’s reserve members certifying in their respective boat crew and law enforcement positions,” said Mahoney. “As the unit’s [senior enlisted reserve adviser], he is an important link between the station command, reserve members and Sector Delaware Bay.”
Mahoney also praised McChesney for how well he mentors junior Coast Guard men and women.
Recently, a junior member from the station, Fireman Christopher Demaree, was diagnosed with leukemia and was admitted to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Although Demaree was not under McChesney’s direct care, McChesney made a point to visit him when he could and reiterate he was there for him, for anything, anytime. Mahoney said it was invaluable knowing one of his own was watching over Demaree.
Demaree has since received a bone marrow transplant and is recovering at home.
Whether he is responding to a Coast Guard search and rescue case, or helping a patient in the hospital or during a flight, McChesney is devoted to helping others.
“I just want to make sure the patient gets taken care of,” said McChesney. “I want to make sure today is OK. That is my whole goal as a nurse. I can’t control what happens tomorrow, I can’t control what happens the next day, but when you’re with me I am going to take care of you.”