A multi-agency on-water emergency preparedness exercise is taking place just off the Northeast coast of Salt Spring Island.

Canadian Coast Guard Assistant Commissioner Roger Girouard says the scenario for the exercise is that a fire has occurred on BC Ferries M/V Coastal Renaissance, and passengers and crew must evacuate.

“We’re doing both life and limb, and pollution management. It’s as complex as I’ve ever seen. There’s planes flying and helicopters going back and forth. It’s quite an impressive operational show with about half a dozen vessels, one of my hovercraft, a couple of RCM SAR, we’ve got a US Coast Guard cutter out there, all patrolling the water and looking for anybody that’s missing. They’re doing shoreline searches until they get the word that they’ve got everybody.”

Besides the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Armed Forces, BC Ferries, Emergency Management BC, Public Safety Canada and BC Emergency Health Services are also participating. Thursday, the CCGS Bartlett will be simulating the ferry near Salt Spring Island for the Marine Environmental Response portion of the drill.