Saturday, February 09, 2013

Dyckesville, Wisconsin: Coast Guard uses mannequins for ice training

In the bay off Dyckesville, there are 20 plastic statues - The Coast Guard asks people to leave them alone

DYCKESVILLE - If you are near the waters of Green Bay near Dyckesville, you may have noticed some activity from the U.S. Coast Guard in the area. It is only a training exercise, but what they're searching for is most unusual. 

 The Coast Guard is indeed out on the ice searching for mannequins. There are twenty in all, placed in hiding spots across the bay.
So if you see one of them out on the ice, the Coast Guard says please leave it alone.

Crews loaded an airboat with mannequins. For the next two weeks, the plastic statues and two snowmobile decoys will spend all day and all night out on the ice.

“There's some targets that are about 3 1/2 miles that way, and then they're all about 2 1/2 to 3 miles apart,” said Randy Szcepanski, Bayside Ice and Marine Recovery.

It's a new training method the Coast Guard hopes will improve efficiencies when it comes to ice rescue.

“We're going to have a couple of different search platforms, H-65 helicopters, SPC airboat, run certain special patterns,” said Don Decker, project manager.

Decker says the helicopter will search a grid pattern, similar to an ocean rescue.

A Coast Guard airboat launched as well. Crew members will rely on their eyes on the ice, and in the air to spot their targets.

“It can potentially save lives running a more effective search. You can cover a greater area in a shorter period of time, said Decker.

The test area covers 64 square miles. But those who use this part of the lake on a regular basis say it's time well spent.

“I think with the way the ice conditions have been the last couple of years, I think it's really going to pay off. Because we're going to just keep seeing the ice move around like that,” said Szcepanski.

In the meantime, if fishermen or snowmobilers run into one of the mannequins out on the bay, the Coast Guard has one piece of advice.

“If you see our mannequins out on the ice, please let them be, they're perfectly happy where they are,” said Decker.
So how many winter calls does the Coast Guard get?
Across the entire Great Lakes region, the agency has responded to 356 calls in the last four years.
That averages out to about 89 calls a year for assistance.

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