Training Day: Paddleboat Disaster on the St. Croix River

Hundreds of emergency responders and volunteer victims will play out a riverboat disaster at about 4:30 p.m. today on the St. Croix River. Police, firefighters, ambulances and dive teams will respond.

Hundreds of first responders and volunteer victims will participate in a this afternoon on the St. Croix River in Stillwater.

The Scenario: As many as 300 people—including at least 90 volunteer victims—will play out a training situation in which a wedding party aboard a paddleboat is involved in a major accident at about 4:30 p.m. on the St. Croix River. Police, firefighters, ambulances and dive teams will respond.

The Cast: Volunteers will role-play as wedding guests on board a riverboat provided by St. Croix Boat and Packet Company. Some of the volunteers will act as injured patients to be rescued, transported and cared for at hospitals on both sides of the river. Others will act as non-injured patients and will be brought to a Family Assistance Center, where they will be cared for and ultimately reunited with loved ones.

Participating Agencies: Agencies participating in the exercise include the Stillwater police and fire, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Lakeview Hospital, St. Croix County law enforcement agencies, the American Red Cross and Medical Reserve Corps.


  • Unified Incident Command between responding agencies and business
  • Rescue Operations – Fire agencies/Dive Teams
  • Recovery Operations – Sheriff’s Office/ Dive Teams
  • Care/transport of injured to hospitals – Emergency Medical Services/Ambulances
  • Emergency medical care – Hospitals
  • Security – Law Enforcement agencies
  • Family Assistance Center Operation – Emergency Management, Community Services, American Red Cross and Medical Reserve Corps

Preparedness: The exercise is funded Homeland Security Grants and is done in conjunction with National Preparedness month. This training is a way for emergency responders to network and prepare for an actual emergency with numerous responding agencies, businesses and hospitals.

Planning: Following the training exercise, responders, emergency management teams and other disaster-assistance agencies will analyze what went right, what went wrong and what could be improved.

Stillwater Resident September 14, 2012 at 05:08 PM
I'd rather see a team of city maintenance volunteers to clear brush and clean up downtown during the bridge closing. I can't remember any disasters needing this sort of training in the history of Stillwater. Funded by a national security grant? Maybe we should have paid the unemployed to participate!
Patches O'Houlihan September 14, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I don't like to see government waste money, but it makes sense that this type of exercise forces everyone involved to develop a preparedness plan and follow through with it. I doubt that this level of planning would occur without an event like this. There's no reason a downtown clean up event can't happen, too.
Observation September 14, 2012 at 06:41 PM
No on expected a bridge to collapse or the World Trade Center to come down either. In the world we live in Public Safety needs to be "prepared" to respond when you, your loved ones or other citizens are unfortunately involved in a natural or man-made disaster. Training for a real life emergency is priceless and well worth it.
David Triemert November 01, 2012 at 01:32 AM
These DHS funded Public Safety Drills stink to high heaven. Often times these events are prep for a "live" event. The Fed's need to leave our local authorities alone as they are very capable of dealing with whatever may come up - look at FEMA's response to Katrina - what a disaster!
David Triemert November 01, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I'm afraid of the grants provided by Department of Homeland Security, they are the same bunch that have been caught sticking their hands down people's pants at our airports (including children) in the name of keeping us safe. Their Agents are not even sworn federal officers; cops would go to hell for simular behavior. Tell DHS to start watching our borders instead, as they are wide open to anyone who wants to come in and cause real harm.


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