Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Plane crash exercise set for Wednesday - Dyckesville, Wisconsin.

Motorists traveling on Wisconsin 57 need not be alarmed early Wednesday if they see numerous ambulances, fire trucks and helicopters descend on the bay at Red River Park in Dyckesville. It’s only a test.

More than two dozen agencies from Door, Kewaunee and Brown counties and the U.S. Coast Guard will take part in a “mass casualty incident” responding to the scenario of a plane crashing into the bay with 51 people on board.

The exercise will begin at 8 a.m. and should be in full swing by about 9 a.m.

“This is a large-scale practice with victims out on the ice,” said Curt Vandertie, Brussels-Union-Gardner Fire Chief, whose voluntary personnel will participate in the drill.

The BUG fire department just completed a local drill in preparation for Wednesday’s event on Saturday. On Sunday they were called out for a real-life ice rescue of an ice fisherman stranded on the bay.
Scheduled to start around 8 a.m. Jan. 18, the exercise is intended to be a realistic simulation of the crash of a 50-passenger plane into a bay. The Coast Guard and numerous agencies are participating in what Paul Gazdik, emergency management coordinator in the Brown County (Wis.) Emergency Management Department, said Jan. 17 is one of the largest exercises the department has participated in since he joined it 10 years ago. "Besides being pretty cold, we have some weather coming through today. The Coast Guard was out yesterday testing ice. We have about 8 inches of ice at the exercise site," he said. "If the ice isn't favorable for having people out there, we'll adjust our plans. If we can't get far enough out on the ice to do our dive operation, we'll adjust. We're trying to work out all the contingencies," he added.

The rule said restrictions on vessel movement within the affected area "are expected to be minimal" because under certain conditions, vessels still may travel through the safety zone when permitted by the Captain of the Port, Sector Lake Michigan. The Coast Guard said it expects there will be little to no vessel traffic "due to the fact that this portion of the waterway will be iced over," adding, "It is expected that ice fishermen may be affected but public notice flyers to be distributed throughout the town of Dyckesville, along with this publication in the Federal Register, will mitigate any economic impact and keep a substantial number of ice fishermen from being affected."



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