SEATTLE — The Coast Guard and emergency response organizations are teaming up with members from 14 agencies to conduct a full-scale international maritime mass-rescue exercise in U.S. waters near Ediz Hook Light with a triage staging area at Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles Tuesday.
The joint exercise is designed to better understand each agency’s capabilities and concerns during a maritime event which will test emergency procedures, search and rescue coordination, accountability of passenger and crew, medical surge operations and activation of the disaster medical emergency mass casualty plan.
The exercise is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and should last for approximately eight hours. Sixty life-saving suits will be placed in the water to help simulate an actual response to the event. Volunteers from the Coast Guard Auxiliary will act as victims for first-responders to medically treat on-scene or be transported to Olympic Medical Hospital.
Agencies expected to participate include: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canadian Coast Guard, Joint Rescue Coordination Center Victoria, Clallam County Emergency Management, Clallam County Fire District 2, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Port Angeles Police Department, Port Angeles Fire Department, Olympic Medical Center Olympic Ambulance, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Arrow Marine Group, Puget Sound Pilots and American Red Cross.
“Each day there are more than 430 daily ferry crossings and numerous cruise boat tours throughout Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands, with many of these carrying large numbers of passengers” said Capt. Joe Raymond, Sector Puget Sound commander and captain of the port Puget Sound. “As such we need to be ready in case a marine disaster to one of these vessels occurs, potentially risking the lives of large numbers of our fellow citizens. That is why we conduct exercises like this one with our many first responder partners on both sides of our border. It is only by planning and exercising together that we can ensure we are truly ready to seamlessly work together to save lives, protect property and reduce environmental impacts.”
The Coast Guard conducts mass-rescue exercises every three years. An exercise was held in 2013 and centered on the response to a downed aircraft in Elliot Bay.