Coast Guard, AK Command end major Arctic rescue operation exercise

Members of the Canadian Coast Guard deliver medical supplies to a temporary medical treatment facility set up as part of Arctic Chinook in Kotzebue, Alaska, Aug. 24, 2016. Arctic Chinook is a joint U. S. Coast Guard and U. S. Northern Command-sponsored exercise that consists of a live field training exercise in a Unified Command structure.

Members of the Canadian Coast Guard deliver medical supplies to a temporary medical treatment facility set up as part of Arctic Chinook in Kotzebue, Alaska, Aug. 24, 2016. 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard, Alaska Command and other state, federal and local partners concluded the Arctic Chinook exercise in Kotzebue Thursday morning.

Coast Guard aircrews transported role players simulating injured passengers and uninjured passengers to Tin City during the third day of the exercise Wednesday. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 aircraft delivered an arctic sustainment package to the participants in Kotzebue. The package is an air-droppable tent shelter that can house 25 people, and some packages can house up to 200.

The State of Alaska Department of Homeland Security — Emergency Management coordinated mass care and sheltering of incoming passengers with the community of Kotzebue.

The 17th Coast Guard District, Alaska National Guard, State of Alaska agencies, Alaska Native organizations and Canadian Forces participated in the live-field training exercise. Arctic Chinook featured several types of rescue helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft to conduct rescue, patient movement and medical evacuation efforts.

“This is one of the first opportunities we’ve had to exercise our International Maritime Search and Rescue Agreement forged between the Arctic Council nations,” said Rear Adm. Michael F. McAllister, commander, 17th Coast Guard District. “We’re excited to have been able to put that agreement into our operations in Kotzebue. This exercise was really about us learning how to best respond to a mass rescue operation and how to work together both locally and internationally, so we can be prepared for what is likely to be an increase in activity in the Arctic region.”

The exercise was part of the U.S. Department of State-approved list of Arctic Council Chairmanship events and was conducted with federal, state, local and international partners and industry to exercise elements of the Arctic Search and Rescue Agreement. The Arctic represents the intersection between geography and interests.

Arctic Chinook represented a unified effort by the Coast Guard and its Alaskan Command partners to understand, anticipate and prepare for the challenges of a mass maritime rescue operation in the Arctic.

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