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Suffolk County Joint Water Rescue Exercise Held at Narrows Bay

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

MASTIC BEACH, NY - On Sunday, May 7th, the Moriches Bay Marine Incident Response team (MIRT) held a joint marine incident helocast training with the Suffolk County Police Aviation and Marine Bureau officers, as well as the United States Coast Guard in the Narrows Bay near Smith Point County Park.  

Just before 10:00 A.M., the assets from the police, as well as local fire and EMS agencies, met at the Smith Point Marina which was designated as the staging area for the exercise. Here, a review of personnel and assets available was conducted prior to the mission briefing being given. EMS rehab and a helicopter landing zone were also both established at the marina prior to the launching of watercraft. Fire Police and Park Rangers assisted with securing areas of the marina and Smith Point County Park, as well as directing non-emergency vehicles through safely. After the briefing was conducted, Suffolk Police Marine Mike and the United States Coast Guard went out and did a sweep of the training area and assisted and directed non-emergency watercraft outside of the training zone so that the fire and other emergency boats could safely enter the training zone and operate.

Once the training zone was deemed secure, members of the various fire departments, as well as EMS personnel launched on fire boats from the marina to the Narrows Bay to prepare for rescue swimmers to be deployed from Suffolk PD Helo 3. The departments that are members of the Marine Incident Response Team took turns recovering the survivor and rescue swimmer using various watercraft, such as small and large safe boats and fire suppression boats, Zodiacs, and jet skis. Various equipment was used including sleds, stokes baskets and more to assist in removing the survivor. Approximately 8 evolutions were conducted during this training period to give all departments a chance to participate and allow some neighboring departments to work together.

Communications between the departments operating were conducted via testing the new public safety talk group. The public safety talk group was created to allow inter department communication between Police, Fire and EMS agencies in the event of a water rescue or other large-scale search and rescue operation. This talk group's goal is to minimize the amount of time that it takes to get information to all parties involved, and also minimizes having to use police or fire dispatchers to relay information from one group to another by providing critical direct communication between all assets on scene. Prior to the creation of this talk group, police officers in helicopters or police boats or on land would have to ask the police dispatcher to relay info to a fire dispatcher via landline or other forms of communication which would then be relayed by the fire dispatcher to fire units or medcom dispatcher to medical units and vice versa.  

In addition to training on deploying from a helicopter to rescue survivors and load them on watercraft, EMS personnel were deployed on a fire boat in case of a real-world emergency, and additional EMS personnel were located at the staging area and conducted rehab of the rescue swimmers and survivors and emergency personnel that participated in the drill exercise to ensure there were no issues. Training together provides critical preparation for all the agencies so that should a real emergency occur, and these assets need to be deployed, that the situation runs smoothly, and everyone knows their department's roles in the operation.

Approximately 100-plus personnel from the following departments and agencies participated in this training: Center Moriches FD, East Port FD, East Moriches FD, Mastic FD, Mastic Beach FD, West Hampton Beach FD, Brookhaven FD, Mastic Ambulance, Mastic Beach Ambulance, Shirley Community Ambulance, Stony Brook University Hospital and their Flight Medic Program, Suffolk Police Aviation, Suffolk Police Marine Bureau, and the United States Coast Guard Station Shinnecock. The training was also attended by several VIP guests from areas of state and local government. The training lasted about four hours, and was considered a success. No real-world emergencies occurred during the training.

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JOHN WALTHERSSenior Correspondent

No information from the author.