Salish Rescue’s Education Director Erik Wennstrom has spent his entire life working in emergency services. Beginning as a firefighter/EMT with the Vashon Island Fire Department in the early 1980s, Wennstrom worked for South King County Fire before certifying as a commercial diver at Seattle’s Divers Institute. Wennstrom moved to Port Townsend in 1985, and volunteered with East Jefferson Fire and Rescue for over 20 years, earning the Firefighter of the Year award 5 times. He was instrumental in the creation of East Jefferson’s fireboat and marine rescue programs, and led a search and rescue Explorer post. Erik is a certified IFSAC fire instructor and has extensive experience in emergency medicine, technical rescue and firefighting in urban, rural, and extreme remote environments.
From 1996-2001, Wennstrom was stationed in Antananarivo, Madagascar, serving as director of special operations East Africa for the U.S. State Department. Projects in Africa included underwater construction work with U.S. Navy SEALs to improve harbor entrance safety, hurricane relief and infrastructure projects, and consulting work with city and regional emergency services and hospitals throughout East Africa.
After returning to Port Townsend to raise his family, Erik obtained his USCG Masters License, and became a captain for Vessel Assist Port Townsend, as well as a salvage diver for Global Diving and Salvage and a certified Puget Sound Oil Spill response technician. In 2013, Erik retired from active duty in the Fire Service, but continues to teach firefighting as well as emergency medicine and search and rescue skills. He also volunteers as an instructor for Firefighters Crossing Borders.