Mass rescue exercises on ice

More than two dozen federal, state and local emergency response agencies participated in a mass rescue operations exercise in Wisconsin.

Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City was among the more than two dozen organizations taking part in the exercise. It's designed to test the coordinated response to a simulated emergency situation in an ice-covered maritime environment.

The scenario of the exercise involved simulating the crash landing of a commuter plane with 51 passengers aboard on ice-covered Green Bay, with emergency responders from the Coast Guard and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources using rescue airboats, alongside traditional aviation and shore-based rescue assets in response to the simulated crash.

The exercise was the first of its kind held on an ice-covered waterway. It was designed to test the coordinated federal/state/local response to a simulated emergency situation. It's also the first exercise to use airboats, which the Coast Guard designates as Special Purpose Craft-Airboats. Coast Guard SPC-AIRs were used during a real mass rescue operation, as emergency responders on airboats, helicopters, planes, ships and boats from several agencies rescued 134 people trapped on an ice floe adrift in Lake Erie in early February 2009: Click here to read a news release.

The exercise allowed the participating agencies to evaluate their response plans, capabilities and coordination to the mass rescue operation, transportation security incident and subsequent oil spill response scenario in a maritime, cold-weather environment while working under the National Response Framework and the National Search and Rescue Plan.