Alphabet soup of law enforcement, public safety agencies respond to Float Down
More than 450 people needed assistance: Canadian Coast Guard
Roughly 4,500 people participated in Sunday's Port Huron and Sarnia Float Down, an annual, unsanctioned, and controversial event which involves people from both sides of the border floating down the St. Clair River in rafts, often better suited to swimming pools.
While there were no casualties, missing participants or border issues, the event kept an alphabet soup of local and national law enforcement and public safety agencies busy.
"We assisted 460 people, and we saved 6 lives on the water," said Marc-Andre Meunier, Director of Incident Management, Central and Arctic for the Canadian Coast Guard. "Bad floaters, alcohol, and you go along for eight miles in the heat and the temperature of the water — that's a dangerous mix."
Roughly 50 vessels took to the river on the day of the event to keep an eye on the floaters.
Planning for the event started as early as February, with the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards, law enforcement agencies, fire departments and EMS working together.
Meunier noted many participants didn't wear life jackets.
Asked whether the presence of the Coast Guard and other agencies at the unsanctioned event gives participants a false sense of security and legitimacy, Meunier said while they do not think people should participate in the event, his agency nevertheless has to fulfil its mandate of saving lives.
"We will always come prepared to ensure that Canadian and U.S. safety on the Great Lakes is taken care [of] — this is the Canadian Coast Guard commitment," he said. "We will always be there to save Canadian life on the water."
Tap on the player to hear Marc-Andre Meunier speak with Afternoon Drive host Chris Dela Torre: