Twelve emergency response agencies and over two dozen rescue personnel including the Coast Guard participated in a marine rescue drill Saturday afternoon at Cedar Beach in Mt. Sinai designed to improve communication among rescuers and strengthen partnerships.
First responders from 10 fire departments—Sound Beach, Miller Place, Rocky Point, Mt. Sinai, Wading River, Setauket, St. James, Northport, Nesconset, Ridge and Port Jefferson Volunteer Ambulance Corps lined the shore at 9 a.m.
Under command of the Coast Guard, in a Suffolk County Command Post vehicle, the rescuers scenario entailed a boat in distress one half mile north of the Mount Sinai Harbor.
For the drill, five persons were reported on board and needed assistance. The fire departments tasks were to coordinate rescue efforts utilizing their resources—emergency medical services, fire boats, ambulances, all terrain vehicles and other apparatuses to aid in the search. The Coast Guard station based in New Haven aided in command of the drill.
“It was a good amount of partners and it’s nice to kind of knock the rust off for the spring time and kind of put the screw to the water,” said Ralph Kugle, the officer in charge of that coast guard station.
Once the mock victims were rescued, they were brought to shore where triage commanders noted the injuries and had Emergency Medical Technicians simulate a transport to area hospitals.
“It worked out pretty well we had a lot of cooperation with everybody in the command van," said Port Jefferson Volunteer Ambulance First Assistant Chief Kathleen Johnson, commander of the medical team. "We had a lot of personnel on the beach.”
One aspect of the drill she noted needed work was communication between the crews.
According to Mt. Sinai Fire Department Ex-Chief and Long Island North Shore Marine Search and Rescue Commander James Trappen, dive teams from Nesconset and Mt. Sinai Fire Departments were working in the 51 degree water as a side drill.
“We found all five victims over an eight mile area in about an hour, hour and a half,” Trappen said.
Miller Place Fire Department Third Assistant Chief Rich Schlude noted his department will participate in future marine rescue drills.
“It was a great opportunity for all of the departments to get together with the Coast Guard to practice our unified response,” he said.