Mass ice rescue exercise planned for Waiska Bay, Brimley MI

Ice Rescue Exercise

Personnel from almost two dozen partner agencies including the U. S. Coast Guard, Ontario Provincial Police, Bay Mills tribal responders, Chippewa County, Canadian and U.S. Sault Ste. Marie emergency agencies, Michigan State Police, and Sault Ste Marie Ontario hospitals are scheduled to hold a mass-rescue exercise on the ice of Waiska Bay, Lake Superior in the vicinity of Pointe Des Chenes on Saturday, March 5.

The exercise is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and should last for approximately four hours.

The exercise simulation involves an aircraft crash into the bay after encountering severe icing on approach to the Sault Ste. Marie Airport. The jet, headed northeast, crash lands on the ice and breaks into several parts and is partially submerged with 37 passengers and three crew aboard.

The exercise is designed to test coordinated emergency response 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/ice rescue environment. It will also allow agencies to test communications, emergency medical care and triage, and other elements of mass-rescue operations.

Rescue Crews from the Bay Mills community will serve as the primary response agency, with other area fire and law enforcement agencies participating under a mutual aid process.

A Rescue Helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City will conduct simulated medical evacuations while the Michigan State Police Unmanned Aerial System and the MSP Dive Team along with several Canadian, tribal and local volunteer fire department ice rescue teams and EMS work alongside U.S. Coast Guard teams to locate, treat and transport patients to one of two local Hospitals.

“Exercises like this are vital for emergency preparedness,” said Captain Steve Teschendorf, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie Commander. “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, fire and first response agencies the day of the exercise. Ice fishing and other recreational activities within the vicinity of Pointe Des Chenes on Waiska Bay are discouraged on the day of the exercise. The U.S. Coast Guard will be sending out a Broadcast Notice to Mariners on VHF-16 during the period of restricted use.