U.S. Coast Guard 14th District Hawaii and the Pacific photo

Agencies Conduct Mass Rescue Exercise in Hawaii

According to the Coast Guard, this was the first airport response exercise of this scale conducted in an ocean environment in the state and was vital because of the volume of air traffic in the region and the proximity of most airports to the ocean.

The Coast Guard, Kauai Fire Department, HDOT Airports Division, HDOT Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Section, Ocean Safety and Lifeguard Services, Kauai Police Department, American Medical Response, and Wilcox Medical Center conducted a full-scale mass rescue exercise April 26 at Ahukini Recreational Pier State Park and Hanamaulu Bay on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. According to the Coast Guard, this was the first airport response exercise of this scale conducted in an ocean environment in the state and was vital because of the volume of air traffic in the region and the proximity of most airports to the ocean.

The exercise is a triennial FAA requirement for the Lihue Airport Response Fire Fighting department. It tested local agencies' ability to work together and evaluated interagency communications, response plans, and responders' actions to a simulated downed commercial airliner. It began with a mayday call for an airliner suffering a bird strike and performing a controlled ditch into the ocean with 80 passengers and five crew members.

During the search and rescue exercise, multiple agencies' assets and crews launched, including 10 crew members from Coast Guard Station Kauai and more than 40 high school students from Kapaa High School to simulate passengers in distress.

Other participating assets and crews included a Coast Guard 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew from Station Kauai, a helicopter crew from Air Station Barber's Point, the 154-foot Fast Response Cutter Joseph Gerczak, a Rescue Company and Air 1 helicopter from the Kauai Fire Department, Jet-Ski operators from Ocean Safety, an ambulance crew on standby from AMR, and medical personnel from the Department of Health and Wilcox Medical Center and the University of Hawaii EMS training program.

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