Personnel from the U. S. Coast Guard, Chautauqua County, Lakewood Fire Department, the State of New York, WCA Hospital and more than two dozen partner agencies are scheduled to hold a mass-rescue exercise on the ice of Chautauqua Lake in the vicinity of Lakewood Community Park (Duck Park) on Saturday, Feb. 22. The exercise is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m. and should last for approximately four hours.
The exercise simulation involves a jet crashing into the lake after encountering severe icing upon takeoff from the Chautauqua County Airport. The jet, headed west crash-lands on the lake and breaks into several parts and is partially submerged in approximately 15 feet of water with 43 passengers aboard. The exercise is designed to test coordinated emergency response and provides the participating agencies the opportunity to evaluate their response plans for, mass-rescue operations in a cold weather/ice rescue environment. It will also allow agencies to test communications, emergency medical care and triage, and other elements of mass-rescue operations.
Lakewood Fire Department will serve as the primary response agency with other area fire and law enforcement agencies participating under a mutual aid process. Rescue Helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station, Detroit and Starflight will conduct simulated medical evacuations. Specialized ice rescue boats will be provided by local fire departments assisting the Chautauqua County WET Team, U.S. Coast Guard and local ice rescue crews. Over 12 ambulances will be dispatched to treat and transport patients to WCA Hospital.
"Exercises like this are critical to effective emergency preparedness," said Julius Leone Jr., director of Chautauqua County Emergency Services. "It gives us the opportunity to test our response plans and ensure that our planning and training efforts would result in an effective and efficient response to real events like this."
Local residents should not be alarmed about the increased presence of law enforcement, fire and first response agencies the day of the exercise. Local traffic on East Terrace Ave./Lakeside Blvd.(between Fairdale Ave. and Jackson Ave.) will be rerouted during the exercise and residents are reminded to avoid that area. Parking for the Lakewood Community Park (Duck Park) will be closed to the public beginning on Friday at midnight and through the duration of the exercise. Ice fishing and other recreational activities within the vicinity of Lakewood Community Park are discouraged on the day of the exercise.