CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Charlotte Harbor was busy Wednesday with flashing lights and sirens. Local agencies came together for a full-scale marine emergency exercise.
Around 10 am the call comes in.
"The engine ceased and the engine started a fire and there was smoke," says Michelle Zarling.
By 10:20, the first marine rescue unit is on scene getting the fire under control and the injured patients off the ship.
"I got smoke and some burns and a lot of people have lacerations and abrasions and burns and they're just bleeding," Zarling adds.
It sounds like an episode of E.R. More than 30 cruise passengers are rescued after their ship catches on fire bringing crews from multiple agencies together to respond by water, land and air.
But the scene is just a large scale exercise. Helping train these first responders for a worst case scenario.
"Any emergency response operation that has marine units, we all coordinate just like mutual aid for large fires and things like that," says Chief DiDio.
Charlotte County Fire Chief Dennis DiDio says their marine units were joined by the sheriff's office, Punta Gorda Police, local Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife.
The state-funded exercise helps them evaluate how these local resources work together, what equipment they have and how long it takes them to get everyone to safety.
"Depending on what the incident is we can activate them very rapidly," Chief DiDio adds.
"It makes you feel safe knowing that they are getting training," add Zarling.