Search and rescue exercise this weekend.

September 6, 2016

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A search and rescue exercise will take place in the Manistee National Forest in Free Soil and Meade townships on Friday, Sept. 9 and Saturday, Sept. 10. The exercise is being coordinated by Mason County Emergency Management and will include local, state and federal emergency response agencies.

Each county is required to conduct at least one exercise annually, and the primary objective of this year’s exercise is to test local emergency responder’s capability to coordinate and manage an incident over multiple operational periods, said Liz Reimink, Mason County Emergency Management coordinator. “Additionally, all of Mason County’s emergency response agencies have been working on enhancing their search and rescue capabilities and training, so the Mason County Search Management Team’s skill will also be tested during this exercise. Finally, emergency responders and search and rescue teams from around the state have been invited to participate in the exercise, which will enhance mutual aid and interoperability amongst resources during a large search in the future.”

All of the exercise’s activities will be taking place in northeast Mason County. The site of the former Camp Sauble Prison will be used as the staging area for the exercise. The actual searching for the simulated lost persons will be on Manistee National Forest property in Meade Township. The exercise will begin on Friday evening with exercise participants conducting the initial search activities, and then the exercise will be paused during the overnight hours. The exercise will resume Saturday morning with additional search and rescue resources conducting full search operations until no later than 5 pm. The public may notice additional vehicles in the exercise areas; however, there should be no other impacts to the public.

“This comprehensive exercise is intended to test Mason County’s response capability for extended disaster response operations and to practice the skills needed for responding to a search and rescue incident. Mason County and the surrounding areas have had several missing person searches in the last few years, and it is important for our community to sustain these critical skills. We appreciate everyone’s participation and understanding while we train for this possible scenario in our community.”

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