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Oregon first responders, Coast Guard drill on mass rescue, security at Oregon port

Port of Astoria, OR

Local first responders in Astoria, OR, worked with Coast Guard rescuers in an exercise on April 10 aimed at responding to a mass rescue situation on the city’s waterfront.

The exercise follows a similar emergency response drill in Astoria in mid-March that looked to hone oil spill response.

In the April 10 exercise, the Coast Guard’s Columbia River Sector, Clatsop County, local police, fire, rescue, hospitals and other agencies conducted the Mass Rescue and Maritime Security exercise on the Astoria waterfront. The deep-water port of Astoria sits at the mouth of the Columbia River and serves not only as a cargo port, but for cruise ships as well.

The exercise, said the Coast Guard, focused on initial response actions and interagency cooperation during a significant on-water event and provided the response community an opportunity to improve preparedness and practice command and control in the field within an incident command/unified command framework.

The scenario, it said, consisted of a simulated cruise ship, represented by the Job Corps vessel Ironwood, experiencing an explosion and grounding west of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. Numerous casualties aboard the vessel required search and rescue and victim transportation to shore for triage and medical treatment by local EMS and hospital staff, with some victims taken for simulated follow-on treatment at local hospitals. An investigation of the explosion was ensued by appropriate law enforcement agencies to determine causes and follow-on actions, it said.

The numerous agencies participating in this event included: Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment, US Job Corps, Clatsop County Emergency Management, FBI and Coast Guard Investigative Services, Columbia River Bar Pilots, Port of Astoria, Oregon State Police, Astoria Fire Dept., Astoria Police Dept., Cannon Beach Fire Dept., Port of Portland Fire & Rescue, Clatsop Co. Sheriff Office, Clatsop Co. Public Health, Medix Ambulance Service, Clatsop Co. Red Cross, Columbia Memorial Hospital, Providence Seaside Hospital and other local agencies and stakeholders.

"Crisis response is a team sport; the complexity of this exercise reinforced how many different private sector, federal, state and local agencies have critical roles to play in safeguarding our communities during any significant event," said Capt. Bruce Jones, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River commander.  "The enthusiasm, commitment and teamwork which each of the participating groups displayed was impressive, and tells me that we have a solid framework in place for an interagency response here at the Gateway to the Columbia River."  


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