U.S. and Canadian coast guards respond in an international mass-rescue drill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Tuesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

U.S. and Canadian coast guards respond in an international mass-rescue drill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Tuesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Mass casualty marine rescue drill challenged agencies

The drill tested American and Canadian agencies’ abilities to work together in an emergency.

PORT ANGELES — The international mass-rescue drill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca highlighted for local, state, federal and Canadian agencies what they already do well and what needs improvement.

The drill — which presented a scenario of some 60 people in the Strait of Juan de Fuca after a maritime disaster — tested some 14 agencies’ abilities in accountability and communication and challenged their processes and procedures, said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Dana Warr of the 13th District external affairs department.

Officials are still putting together an after-action report, but they already are discussing the possibility of updating the Coast Guard’s processes and procedures, he said.

What became evident was that the agencies have different terms and acronyms to describe different things, he said, echoing what Brian King, Clallam County sheriff’s chief criminal deputy, said Tuesday.

“The language, simple things, forms and acronyms and how we say all those, was a little different from one agency to another,” Warr said.

A result of the exercise could be getting various agencies on the same page so the players involved know what other agencies are referring to, he said.

The Coast Guard worked with several local agencies — including law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics — as well as Canadian first responders to simulate rescuing 60 people from the Strait after a maritime disaster about 6 miles north of Port Angeles.

Among the agencies involved in the drill were the Canadian Coast Guard and Joint Rescue Coordination Center Victoria.

From this side of the border were U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Clallam County Emergency Management, Clallam County Fire District No. 2, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, Port Angeles Police Department, Port Angeles Fire Department, Olympic Medical Center, Olympic Ambulance, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Arrow Marine Group, Puget Sound Pilots and American Red Cross and Clallam County Community Emergency Response Teams.

For Clallam County Fire District No. 2, the drill was also a test of its communications system, said Fire Chief Sam Phillips.

What became evident — though responders already knew it going in — was the district’s communications system needs to be upgraded and modernized, he said.

“That’s not something the fire district can do by ourselves,” he said. “We’ll have to take a regional approach if that’s to happen.”

He said the district was impressed with the Coast Guard’s ability to triage the patients at the Air Station on Ediz Hook.

Patients were assigned certain colors, depending on the extent of their injuries, so paramedics could care for the most seriously injured victims first.

The drill also gave the firefighters exposure to working in a larger operation, which included local, state and federal agencies.

While all drills will have some artificiality, just how realistic this drill was helped, Warr said.

As the drill started, a fog bank filled the Strait, making it difficult for crews to actually spot the victims.

Many of the agencies involved didn’t know exactly what their role in the drill was going to be either, he said.

“To be able to plan something and surprise the responders is always a good thing,” he said. “It gives a more natural reaction to an emergency and allows us to learn more.”

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

U.S. and Canadian coast guards respond in an international mass-rescue drill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Tuesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

U.S. and Canadian coast guards respond in an international mass-rescue drill in the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Tuesday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

More in News

Pictured, from left, are Mary Kelso, Jane Marks, Barbara Silva and Linda Cooper.
School donation

The Port Angeles Garden Club donated $800 to the Crescent School in… Continue reading

Clayton Hergert, 2, along with is mother, Mandy Hergert of Port Angeles, sit at the bow of a U.S. Coast Guard response boat on display during Saturday’s Healthy Kids Day at the Port Angeles YMCA. The event, hosted by all three Olympic Peninsula YMCA branches, featured children’s activities designed to promote a healthy lifestyle and a love for physical activity. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Captain on deck

Clayton Hergert, 2, along with is mother, Mandy Hergert of Port Angeles,… Continue reading

Clallam County Fire District 3 commissioners agreed on April 2 to seek a real estate market analysis for Lost Mountain Station 36 after multiple attempts to seek volunteers to keep the station open. They’ll consider selling it and using funds for emergency supplies in the area, and offsetting construction costs for a new Carlsborg fire station. (Matthew Nash/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Fire District to seek market analysis for station

Proceeds could help build new building in Carlsborg

John McKenzie. (Clallam County Fire District 3)
Sequim to bring back fire, safety inspections

Routine visits out of rotation for almost a year

Isaac Wendel, 11, left, and his mother Jennie Wendel of Port Angeles, comb the beach on the inside of Ediz Hook in Port Angeles on Saturday as part of a cleanup effort hosted by Washington CoastSavers in honor of Earth Day. Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across numerous beaches on Washington’s Pacific Coast and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to collect trash and other unwanted debris. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Earth Day cleanup

Isaac Wendel, 11, left, and his mother Jennie Wendel of Port Angeles,… Continue reading

John Brewer.
Former longtime editor and publisher of PDN dies

John Brewer, 76, was instrumental in community

Randy Perry and Judy Reandeau Stipe, volunteer executive director of Sequim Museum & Arts, hold aloft a banner from "The Boys in the Boat" film Perry purchased and is loaning to the museum. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
‘Boys in the Boat’ banner to be loaned to museum

Sequim man purchases item shown in film at auction

Charisse Deschenes, first hired by the city of Sequim in 2014, departed this week after 10 years in various roles, including most recently deputy city manager/community and economic development director. (City of Sequim)
Deputy manager leaves Sequim

Community, economic development position open

Hoko River project seeks salmon recovery and habitat restoration

Salmon coaltion takes lead in collaboration with Makah, Lower Elwha tribes

Clallam Transit’s zero-fare program off to successful start

Ridership is up and problems are down, general manager says