East Jefferson Fire-Rescue medics Alex Morris and Reese Chambers carry a 120-pound dummy to the beach to use for an emergency exercise at Kala Point on Wednesday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News) ​

East Jefferson Fire-Rescue medics Alex Morris and Reese Chambers carry a 120-pound dummy to the beach to use for an emergency exercise at Kala Point on Wednesday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News) ​

Emergency responders, volunteers practice with sea plane

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County officials, emergency responders and area volunteers came together for a drill Wednesday for using sea planes to transport people after a natural disaster.

The exercise was based at the beach on Kala Point and included teams from the Navy, East Jefferson Fire-Rescue, the Jefferson County Department of Emergency Management and others.

“It was a way to practice using amphibious aircraft for evacuating injured people,” said Sky Terry of the Emergency Volunteer Air Corps.

The exercise was to help prepare for a massive earthquake from the 800-mile Cascadia Subduction Zone off the Pacific Coast, which stretches from southern British Columbia to Northern California.

The fault spawns quakes of 9.0 magnitude or more an average of once every 200 to 500 years, with the last in about 1700. Officials say it is not if, but when, the next major quake will occur.

Such a quake could disable any emergency response over land, including planes.

“In the case of a natural disaster, like a major earthquake, runways could be out,” said Don Goodman, a pilot from Bellingham who volunteered his plane for Wednesday’s training.

“Amphibious planes could be the only way to transport people, other than helicopters.”

During the training, medics from East Jefferson Fire Rescue, practiced rescuing an injured Navy firefighter from Naval Magazine Indian Island and brought the firefighter — which actually was a 120-pound dummy on a backboard — to Kala Point.

The dummy was walked down to the beach and then carried on to the plane. Other volunteers portrayed other mock victims with various injuries. They were bandaged and loaded onto the float plane to allow volunteers to practice basic first aid, such as applying splints and carrying a person on a backboard along rough terrain, and how to safely carry injured people and get them onto a plane.

Volunteers, mostly from the Kala Point and Marrowstone Island neighborhoods, were given a short orientation on Wednesday morning on how to safely move around a sea plane and were briefed on that morning’s practice situation.

“It was a chance to give them hands-on with the float planes,” Terry said. “You deal with stuff differently with float planes than with land based planes but it’s mostly how to safely get people on and off and being aware of propellers.”

This is the first time a training like this was done in Jefferson County. Terry has been running training like this in Bellingham’s Lake Whatcom and Seattle’s Lake Washington for roughly two years.

The pilot, Goodman, said this is the first time he’s flown his plane into a training like this. As a member of the Washington Seaplane Pilot’s Association (WSPA), he has worked with Terry in other ways to support emergency planning and training like this in Washington state.

Terry has been working with the WSPA to create a data base of pilots willing to help in emergencies.

The actual implementation of those pilots is a work in progress, according to Goodman, since they still don’t have a good way to notify pilots in case of an emergency and figuring out how planes will be able to either fuel up or carry enough fuel to evacuate people is another issue.

“It’s still in development,” Goodman said. “This kind of practice is a refinement of that system.”

Goodman, who flew about 35 minutes from Lake Samish to Kala Point, has also worked with officials in Clallam County to use sea planes as emergency vehicles there as well.

On Aug. 1, Blaine Zechenelly, Fire District 3 disaster planner/Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) coordinator; Clallam County Emergency Management volunteer Jim Buck and Jefferson County Emergency Manager Lynn Sterbenz attended an amphibious training exercise in Westport at the invitation of Washington National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Brett Daugherty.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

Volunteers practice loading injured people on to a waiting sea plane during an emergency exercise at Kala Point on Wednesday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News) ​

Volunteers practice loading injured people on to a waiting sea plane during an emergency exercise at Kala Point on Wednesday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News) ​

More in News

EYE ON THE PENINSULA: Broadband, public health before county boards

Government meetings across North Olympic Peninsula

A pair of Clallam Transit buses sit at The Gateway Transit Center in Port Angeles in preparation for their fixed-route runs on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Clallam Transit sees large rise in ridership

No issues seen with new zero-fare policy

Plans move ahead for Quilcene skate park

Jefferson County, volunteers seek grants

Peninsula College Foundation reports record levels of giving

Programs, students both recipients of funds

County to repave section of Carlsborg Road

Clallam County commissioners will consider awarding a contract for… Continue reading

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail and the entrance to the Port Angeles City Pier parking lot on Wednesday as part of a project to improve sidewalks and storm water drainage around the site. The project is expected to be substantially completed and the parking lot reopened by mid-March. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Port Angeles City Pier

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail… Continue reading

Port Townsend approves utility rate changes, renames skate park

Public hearing set for Transportation Benefits District

Slate of initiatives has upended Olympia, lobbyist says

‘Potential showstoppers’ described at Coffee with Colleen

Artist Chris Stevenson, who described herself as an urban sketcher from Port Townsend, uses a pencil for scale as she sketches the work at the new entrance to Point Hudson Marina on Monday morning. A group in town, the Port Townsend Urban Sketchers will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday to sketch at the Port Townsend Aero Museum. Sessions are free and open to sketchers of all skill levels. For more information, see www.urbansketchersporttownsend.wordpress.com. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Marina art

Artist Chris Stevenson, who described herself as an urban sketcher from Port… Continue reading

The site of the former Rayonier mill in Port Angeles, shown on Tuesday, awaits completion of environmental cleanup almost 27 years after the last roll of pulp rolled off the line. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Cleanup at Rayonier site still years away

Action plan to be approved in 2024-25