Mock disaster exercise staged in Northumberland Strait

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Mock disaster exercise staged in Northumberland Strait

The Canadian Coast Guard staged a dramatic mock disaster Wednesday morning in the Northumberland Strait.

The scenario involved a tour boat capsizing in Hillsborough Bay, just outside of Charlottetown Harbour.

John Drake, search and rescue preparedness officer with the Canadian Coast Guard, said more than 250 people participated, including close to 50 mock casualties.

The operation also involved several aircraft and small vessels, along with a coast guard ship.

"There [were] casualties along the shoreline of St. Peters and Governors islands," said Drake.

There was an actual capsized vessel, Drake said, with one or two people beneath it. To retrieve them, the helicopter crew jumped out of the aircraft and landed in the water by parachute.

Phillip Walker, senior response officer for search and rescue in the Atlantic region for the coast guard, said the goal was to recover all the casualties and account for them in one location.

"It's really important we test our ability to respond and communicate with shore partners and on-water resources."

Most coast guard exercises are on a smaller scale, Walker said.

"These type of scenarios have happened in the past in different locations around the world, so we want to be as prepared as possible."

Drake said the coast guard often receives concerned calls when training exercises like this take place.

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