Coast Guard Conducts Rescue Training Exercise

A group of Amish tourists waiting for the St. Louis Arch Museum to open looked on as 70 team members from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi, local police and firefighting organizations from the Missouri and Illinois sides of the river and other responders gathered on the St. Louis riverfront July 28 for a mission simulation drill. 

The Maritime Security Exercise involved a hijacked vessel and rescues of multiple people fallen into the river. Industry partners in the exercise included Budrovich Marine and Gateway Arch Riverboats, whose facilities were used for parts of the exercise.  It began at 8 a.m. and was scheduled to last at least several hours. The  Tom Sawyer, a well-known St. Louis riverboat, had volunteered to act as the “hijacked” vessel. 

According to Coast Guard Lt. James Long, “Port security staff plan out these exercises years in advance” after consulting with partners. “As the smallest branch of the U.S. military, we at the Coast Guard can only perform our missions with the help of numerous partner agencies. Exercises like this build relationships and strengthen communication with the local responders, including police departments and firefighters, that we work with every day.”

The exercises are scripted, but only the managers know the full script. The participants have to figure out how to react on the spot, just as they do in real emergencies. The exercises are held about every two years, according to Long.

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