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Gunflint Trail VFD Evacuates Sag/Seagull Area for Training Drill

May 31, 2019 02:18PM ● By Editor

Photos:  Cook County MN

Media Release from Cook County MN - May 31, 2019

This week, the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department/EMS, in conjunction with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Dispatch, Emergency Management & PIO Department, Cook County Search & Rescue (SAR), and the US Forest Service Superior National Forest, led an evacuation exercise at the end of the Gunflint Trail. With command staff based out of Hall 3 located next to Seagull Lake, the training exercise saw 40 participants with members of the GFTVD/EMS and USFS, visit each residence in the areas surrounding Saganaga and Seagull Lake area with evacuation instructions and education material, by vehicle, foot and boat following an incident/safety briefing.

Responders tested the time it took to cover dozens of the remote roads and neighborhoods, launch boats for water-access only notifications, communication systems and supplies.


The training event was coordinated by GFTVD members – Firefighter Brianna Baumann serving as Incident Commander, Firefighter and Rope Team Rescuer Ruth Baumann as Operations Chief, and Firefighter/EMR/SAR Member Jessica Berg-Collman as Communications Lead, along with EMT and former EMS Chief Laura Popkes as the Safety Liaison. With the exception of a small section of Sag Lake Trail, the crews were able to evacuate the entire expansive area including encountering several time-consuming scenarios in about two hours. 

“These exercises are vital not only to the local department for training, but a prime opportunity for inter-agency training and communication and to test our incident command systems,” said Sheriff Pat Eliasen. “It's also so beneficial for community members to receive face-to-face contact with local responders, receive evacuation notices and to start thinking about items they need to have ready to go in the event of a real evacuation like medications, ID, important paperwork, etc. Kudos and sincere thanks to Gunflint Trail Fire Department, specifically the ladies who organized and led this complicated operation. Everyone did a fantastic job and I am proud to say, we have some awesome role models here.”

A check list for personal emergency/evacuation kits can be found at

Next year, the GFTVFD will be focusing on the Gunflint Lake area for the annual drill.  Evacuation orders are issued by the Sheriff’s Office in executed in conjunction with local departments and in accordance with the County’s overall Emergency Operations Plan. Cook County has experienced real-life evacuations from this remote area during wildfire events, the last time being the Ham Lake Fire in May 2007.



Valerie Marasco Eliasen, Public Information Officer/Director – Office of Emergency Management & Public Information
Mobile 218-387-5366 or [email protected]


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