Coast Guard practices water rescue in Charleston Harbor

Coast Guard practices water rescue in Charleston Harbor

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard practiced what to do during a water rescue in the Charleston Harbor.

With a mock command post at Patriots Point, the exercise involved more than a dozen federal, state and local agencies.

When it comes to a major emergency on Charleston's water ways,  it's all hands on deck.

"We wanted a situation where we had a number of people in distress," said Gary Tomasulo, Charleston Sector Commander for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The scenario: a ferry carrying 90 people hits an unknown objects while crossing Charleston Harbor.

"It's not something that happens often, but this is the type of exercise we need to prepare for - it's the worst care scenario," said Tomasulo.

Volunteers acted as distressed passengers.

"A lot of people don't see what goes into it, the training the knowledge they need to have," said Terry Kornahrens, Red Cross volunteer.

Helicopters, fire boats and even jet skis helped get passengers to safety.

Passengers who weren't hurt were taken to the command post at Patriots Point. The injured were taken to other side of the harbor.

"The reason they were brought to the Maritime Center, over in Charleston, is because we have a hospital located there," said Tomasulo.

New technology, like the Consolidated Dispatch System, is streamlining communication methods between agencies.

"This is a great example of how all this communication ties in to make the Charleston area a little safer," said Sgt. Angus MacBribe, Department of Natural Resources.

The Coast Guard says it took six months to prepare for this simulation. They try to do one, with all the agencies, at least once a year.

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