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Agencies conducting rescue drills at sea

Posted at 11:45 PM, Apr 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 23:45:49-04

If marine traffic looked a little busier than normal Wednesday evening off Naples, you weren't imagining it.

6 Southwest Florida agencies conducted a rescue drill 11 miles off Gordon's Pass.  The scenario involved 5 people being thrown into the ocean after two boats collided.

"A 65 foot yacht cruising by unintentionally ran them over," said North Collier Fire Lt. Ted Vath.

The maneuvers were part of a drill involving Naples, North Collier and Marco Island fire departments, along with FWC, the Coast Guard and Collier County Sheriff's Office. 

Rescuers had to retrieve orange buckets out of the water that represented the people thrown overboard.  They also had to plot a course from land to the accident scene, keeping in mind the "scene" may have drifted from its original location.

"You don't just get in a boat and run around out there, and go searching, there's patterns there's things to learn electronics, geographical areas they need to learn," said Vath.

The agencies used the drill as a chance to iron out any communication issues.  A command post back on land helped orchestrate the rescue, which is exactly how it would go down in real life.

"The more we do this, and tie it all together, the safer we make it, the quicker we will be out here for the response if it ever does occur,' said Vath.

Crews from North Collier fire will be back on the gulf next week exploring the artiifcal reefs off the coast of Naples.  Those reefs are expected to attract more divers, which will attract more boats.