Skagit Bay hosts emergency drill Saturday

Crews from 10 regional agencies, including North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, will be on the waters of northern Skagit Bay Saturday, April 21, acting out a rescue scenario.

This third annual multiagency field training hosted by Skagit Bay Search and Rescue simulates a marine accident and gives professional and volunteer rescue crews a chance to coordinate their procedures and skills.

The agencies will respond to a simulated boat collision involving two fully loaded pleasure boats, where one boat sinks. The people in need of rescue will be represented by weighted detergent bottles that float with the currents. Search and rescue crews will arrive as if responding to a real event.

They will practice search patterns, rescue techniques and medical evacuations both by boat and helicopter.

“The distress flares, helicopter, and flashing lights may alarm nearby residents and boaters. 911 dispatch and the Coast Guard will be able to reassure callers that this is not an actual emergency,” said Ron Shrigley of Skagit Bay Search and Rescue.

Skagit Bay Search and Rescue and North Whidbey Fire and Rescue are coordinating the training exercise, one of the few chances local marine safety groups have to practice their skills together in field conditions.  Other agencies involved are sheriff marine patrols from Skagit and Island counties, Swinomish Tribal Police, Deception Pass State Park, NAS Whidbey Search and Rescue, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, and two U.S. Coast Guard divisions --- Sector Puget Sound and Station Bellingham.

The training exercise runs from noon to 3 p.m., originating at Deception Pass State Park.


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