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The Lifelike and Streamlined Sea Rescue Drill for the “Three Mini Links” Ferry Lines

The Lifelike and Streamlined Sea Rescue Drill for the “Three Mini Links” Ferry Lines
Reporter: Wong Wei-Jhih / Summary Report

Kinmen County Government held its 2017 sea rescue capability improvement drill for the “Three Mini Links” ferries at the southern part of Shuitou Pier yesterday afternoon. The drill simulated a “Three Mini Links” ferry fire. Seventeen units from the military and government participated in the drill, including the relevant departments under the Kinmen County Government, the Coast Guard Administration, Kinmen Defense Command, Army 101st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, and Maritime Port Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The lifelike emergency rescue drill not only showed that the army and civilians were able to work together to conduct the emergency rescue, but also verified the effectiveness of the emergency response systems, such as resource mobilization, disaster prevention as well as emergency medical care. The emergency rescue drill aimed to ensure better protection for passengers who take the “Three Mini Links” ferries.

According to the Kinmen Disaster Management Office, the “Three Mini Links” ferries have been in high demand in recent years. As a result, Kinmen’s tourism has thrived. Every year, there are over one million people visiting or transferring via Kinmen. However, this also raised potential safety issues. In 2008, one of Xiamen’s “Three Mini Links” ferry line, the Tongan Ferry, caught fire. Rescue teams from both Taiwan and China worked together to put out the fire. Fortunately, this serious accident did not cause any injuries or deaths. Since the accident, Taiwan and China have hosted rescue drills more frequently in the hope of ensuring maritime transportation safety.

The drill took place at the southern part of Shuitou Pier at 2:30 yesterday afternoon. Deputy magistrate, Wu Cherng-Dean, hosted the drill on behalf of Magistrate Chen Fu-Hai. Kinmen Defense Command Lieutenant General Hao Yii-Jy; Kinmen County Fire Bureau Director-General, Yang Su-Kai (who was also the commander in chief of the drill); Director of Kinmen County Tourism Department, Chen Mei-ling; Deputy Director of Kinmen County Environmental Protection Bureau, Yang Jian-Li; Deputy Director of Kinmen County Harbor Office, He Pei-Jyu; as well as representatives of Everrich Golden Lake Hotel and Buddhist Tzu Chi Merits Society in Kinmen all participated the drill from the beginning to the end.

The drill was carefully planned and organized. A coordination meeting was held on April 26th, followed by three simulations on May 23rd, June 7th, and June 13th. The drill created a scenario where the ferry “Victoria” with about 60 passengers onboard caught fire due to an engine overheating as the ferry arrived at Shuitou Pier. As part of the scenario, everyone on the ferry jumped overboard; it was an extremely dangerous and urgent situation. In response, Kinmen County Government immediately activated its sea rescue system in order to mobilize all possible rescue resources; request sea rescue reporting; establish a field command post; conduct sea rescue and Command and Control of Incident Operations (CCIO); extinguish the fire from the shore; provide medical support to the injured passengers, receive support from civil groups and enterprises, utilize large boats and divers for rescue work; clean up oil spills at sea (by the Environmental Protection Bureau); allocate rescue cranes; and coordinate communications to announce the accident to media outlets. The total number of people who participated in the drill was 247; 19 vehicles and 15 boats were mobilized.

Unfortunately, helicopters of the National Airborne Service Corps were not able to arrive at Kinmen on time to participate in the emergency rescue drill yesterday due to inclement weather. The helicopters have always been an important part of the past sea rescue drills held by Kinmen County Government. This unexpected circumstance showed the urgent need to deploy helicopters of the National Airborne Service Corps in Kinmen.

Wu Cherng-Dean commented that Kinmen County is surrounded by the sea and is prone to encountering many types of maritime accidents. In 2016, the Chinese vessel "Gang Tai Tai Zhou" was grounded in the open waters of Gugang for more than 60 days due to Typhoon Meranti, which significantly affected the maritime ecosystem in this area. On June 2nd this year, the Kaohsiung vessel “Yi Sin” was grounded at sea by Sinhu Fishing Port in Kinmen due to inclement weather. Luckily, the crew members and passengers were safe, and the vessel was hauled off successfully. Both incidents demonstrated that Kinmen County Government should focus on maritime accident prevention measures.

Magistrate Chen Fu-Hai announced that 2017 is the year to take action. It is said on the battlefield that “treat every drill as a real battle.” Negligence is absolutely not an option. The magistrate hoped every department that participated in the drill can handle each detail practically, be fully aware of crises, and strengthen our sea rescue system in order to protect our people’s lives and property.

Kinmen Defense Command Lieutenant General Hao Yii-Jy praised the drill, saying that it was extremely successful. He stated that the military’s ability to mobilize rescue resources has been recognized by the public over these past years. Indeed, it is every department’s responsibility to take part in disaster prevention and rescue. The rescue crews must respond to an emergency quickly. They also need to be aware of their own safety as well as ensure that they are well equipped with protection gear and equipment. Every drill is an opportunity to evaluate the preparation outcomes. Through constant improvement and revision, the magistrate urged each department to maximize its emergency rescue capacity and minimize the damage.

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  • Date:2017-12-01