Island engulfed by marine disaster exercise


Fernwood became disaster central last Wednesday as the largest maritime training exercise in Canadian history unfolded off Salt Spring Island.

Several hundred B.C. first responders, military personnel and civilian volunteers were involved in Exercise Salish Sea 2017, which envisioned a car catching fire on BC Ferries’ Coastal Renaissance vessel and a mass evacuation being required. Fernwood Dock was the access point for injured and traumatized passengers and crew members to be treated by an army of first responders, including local BC Ambulance Services and Salt Spring Fire-Rescue personnel.

Canadian Coast Guard vessels, and others, brought load after load of passengers to the dock, while CCG search and rescue and Canadian Armed Forces helicopters buzzed overhead.

“For our first responder agencies, this opportunity was priceless,” said Salt Spring Fire Chief Arjuna George.

“Did it go well? Yes. Did it go perfect? No. But that is the reasoning behind training, to identify the strong areas and pinpoint the weak ones. This is how we become better responders.”

For more on this story, see the Nov. 1, 2017 issue of the Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.



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