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      Fire put out, passengers saved

      Robert Duchowski

      Robert Duchowski

      Fire put out, passengers saved

      Fight the force of nature, call for help, launch a fast emergency response and immediate rescue operation an exercise codenamed TSR 2024was carried out last Wednesday in Szczecin

      Those who happened to be on or near the Piast Boulevards on Wednesday’s morning around nine o’clock could witness the following scene: a closed-off exit road from Zamkowa Thoroughfare to Jana z Kolna Street, police cars with lights and sirens on, fire engines, ambulances rushing in and out, a rapid deployment tent set up, people being pulled out of water by police and city guard motorboats, and Szczecin Water Rescue Service's water scooters and boats in action.

      Luckily, the whole commotion was only due to an exercise. The services were preparing for a scenario involving a fire breaking out on a vessel. This time, it was the Kapitan Cook ship, with fifty passengers and four crew members on board. The fire broke out in the engine room, and the ship crew was unable to put it out. Panic took over as the engine stopped working. Passengers were jumping overboard to save their lives. The captain sent an SOS and issued an evacuation order. The emergency services launched an immediate response. Police, City Guard and Water Rescue Service motorboats came to the aid rapidly. Waiting ashore were paramedics from Szczecin’s Regional Emergency Medical Services Station (WSPR), police officers and fire-fighters, who helped to arrange transport and make a preliminary determination of who needs what help and how urgently. Divers were deployed to help one of the passengers who found himself underwater.

      While only a mock scenario, the Wednesday exercise rehearsed a perfectly conceivable situation that might happen during the finals of The Tall Ships Races. The event will see tens of sailing ships moored along the shore, and water traffic will be heavy. During the Wednesday exercise, the wharf was quiet and empty, with very little going on offshore. In a real-life scenario, rescue services would have to cope in a more challenging environment. These exercises are meant to make sure that should such a rescue operation be needed, it is carried out as efficiently as possible.

      The exercise was a practical test of the individual servicescooperation as part of an emergency response during the  The Tall Ships Races 2024, -  said  Mirosław Pieczykolan, Head of the Department of Crisis Management and Civil Defence, who led the exercise on Wednesday.These simulations allow us to test our communications and information flow between individual services involved in the operation, as well as to review our rescue procedures on internal waters during TSR 2024. In addition, the goal of the exercise was to educate participants on safe behaviour during an emergency.

      The operation proceeded as planned, with everyone knowing what to do and how to act. In these kinds of situations, it is extremely important to keep calm and act in a well-coordinated manner. While this was only an exercise, there was no room for mistake. There were no rushed movements and operators had to avoid roughing up the water; the casualties had to be approached carefully and pulled out of water.

      In such rescue operations, the boats must not approach people too quickly, otherwise they might rough up the water and the resulting wave can take them under. You need to be focused and composed. Peoples lives are at stake, so we there is no room for mistakes -  said Jacek Kleczaj, President of Szczecin's Water Rescue Service.

      The exercise involved all municipal emergency services, including the Police, City Guard, State and Harbour Fire Departments, the Regional Emergency Medical Services, Szczecin’s Water Rescue Service, the Gryf Voluntary Fire Department, the Szczecin-Śmierdnica Voluntary Fire Department, the Świnoujście Maritime Search and Rescue Service, as well as representatives of the City Hall, the Maritime Office, and the Westpomeranian Governor’s Office, and a group of Maritime University of Szczecin students.


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