Coast Guard, partner agencies to hold mass rescue exercise in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE – The Coast Guard and more than 20 federal, state and local agencies will conduct a full-scale, mass rescue and recovery exercise at multiple locations near the Milwaukee waterfront and on Lake Michigan Thursday.

Events will take place at different locations, including McKinley Marina, General Mitchell Airport and in the city of Cudahy.

The Coast Guard, Milwaukee County, and the city of Milwaukee will serve as the primary response agencies with other area fire and law enforcement agencies participating under a mutual aid process.

The joint exercise scenario involves an airplane crash into Lake Michigan about 5 miles offshore. The crash site will be simulated by the Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay anchored off shore from McKinley Marina. The exercise is designed to test coordinated emergency response efforts and provides the participating agencies the opportunity to evaluate the coordination between multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional response plans for mass rescue operations in a cold weather and ice rescue environment.

The simulated rescues will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, conducting simulated medical evacuations. Coast Guard cold water rescue teams, utilizing Port of Milwaukee tugs, will be the next on scene followed closely by rescue teams from the Wisconsin Department Natural Resources, Milwaukee Police Department, and the rescue dive team from the Milwaukee Fire Department.

In a separate exercise simulation, ice fishermen will need to be rescued from the city of Cudahy on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Cudahy Fire Department and St. Francis Fire Department will work alongside Coast Guard teams to locate, treat and transport these additional patients to area hospitals.

“Exercises like this are vital for emergency preparedness,” said Capt. Amy Cocanour, commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “It gives us the opportunity to test our response plans and ensure that our planning and training efforts integrate with our partner response agencies for an effective and efficient response to real events like this.”

Local residents should not be alarmed about the increased presence of law enforcement and first response agencies near the Port of Milwaukee Thursday morning and should be aware an exercise is in progress.

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