Release Date: 09/12/2006

Several governmental agencies will partake in a search and rescue simulation called Operation Lilypad in the New Orleans area on Sept. 20.  Water rescue exercises will take place in the southern parts of Lake Pontchartrain to help replicate a flooded New Orleans. 

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division Lt. Col Keith LaCaze will oversee Operation Lilypad.  LDWF agents will join in the exercise with the New Orleans Police and Fire Departments, New Orleans Emergency Medical Services, Louisiana National Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, FEMA, Louisiana Urban Search and Rescue, Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, and Louisiana State Police.

Operation Lilypad allows rescuers to practice search and rescue methods developed as a result of experiences in a flooded New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.  During that flood, there were many high ground spots in the city in between flooded areas that created "lilypad" locations suitable for search and rescue dropoff points. 

At lilypad locations, rescuers can provide flood victims with security, food, water and emergency medical attention while they wait for vehicle transport to the New Orleans Convention Center.  At the Convention Center, the rescued would be processed and taken on buses out of the city.

During the operation, commanders will relay locations of boat launch sites, a forward command post and lilypads to participants.  The forward command post will notify search and rescue teams of the locations of people and animals in need of rescue.  The "victims" of Operation Lilypad are role players from participating agencies.

Once the rescues are underway, victims will be pulled from flooded areas by boats and helicopters and taken to the lilypads.  After victims are collected at lilypads, trucks will be dispatched to take them to a nearby location that will represent the New Orleans Convention Center. 

"We want this exercise to be as close to the real thing as possible," LDWF Enforcement Division Lt. Col. and Operation Lilypad Commander Keith LaCaze said.  "With this exercise, we will be able to practice working efficiently with multiple organizations and make future search and rescue missions better for both rescuers and victims."

For more information, contact Lt. Col. Keith LaCaze at 225-765-2988 or