Emergency drill planned for Saturday off Camden

Posted Oct. 11, 2012, at 12:43 p.m.

CAMDEN, Maine — Nearly 100 personnel from a variety of state, county and local agencies will test response capabilities to an island-based multiple casualty incident in a full-scale exercise 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

This final exercise in the series, known as “Pen Bay Responder ’12”, began in spring with a seminar that examined the statutory authorities of the various agencies with responsibilities to lead or assist in a major incident on Penobscot Bay, according to a news release issued by Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Ray Sisk.

The scenario developed by the multiagency planning team will focus on the ditching of a 13-passenger aircraft near Laselle Island in the middle of Penobscot Bay of Camden. Described as a “Miracle on the Hudson” emergency water landing in a challenging location, the incident will require a coordinated response by agencies in Knox and Waldo counties along with other state, federal and local responders.

“The Coast Guard often relies on its local partner agencies to meet complex search and rescue mission needs,” said Chief Boatswain’s Mate Ed Martin, executive petty officer of Station Rockland, in the news release. “A larger-scale incident like this would clearly require a highly coordinated effort.”

Martin, Maine State Police Trooper Pat Hood and Maine Marine Patrol Sgt. Marlowe Sonksen have been identified as the “unified commanders” representing the lead agencies in this exercise.

“Although this scenario involves a small commercial aircraft, the response and coordination efforts translate easily to any number of other multiple casualty incidents which could happen in and around Penobscot Bay,” according to Sisk in the news release.

Waldo County EMA Director Dale Rowley added in the news release, “No single agency has the resources or personnel to completely deal with an incident of this scope by itself.”

Activity will pick up in the waters around Laselle Island by 8 a.m. Saturday as boats transport exercise “actors” and evaluators into position on the island. At the same time, agency personnel making the coordinated response will gather at Rockland’s Harbor Park for final briefings prior to departure. Marine Patrol, Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and other boats will depart from the Rockland landing and return there around noon with “rescued” survivors. No injured “actors” will be transported on land by ambulance to area hospitals, but the Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo General Hospital have a clear role to play and will be included in communications from the exercise incident commanders.

Casual observers can expect to see a marked increase of rescue boat traffic near Laselle Island, along with command, control and coordination vehicles and personnel at Harbor Park. An emergency communications relay station will also be operating from Mount Battie at Camden Hills State Park.

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