Drill Tests Emergency Responders - @ JEMS.com


Drill Tests Emergency Responders

Agencies from six counties take part in decontamination exercise at high school


 
 

Joanie Baker | | Wednesday, May 7, 2008


CALHOUN, Ky. -- What would happen if pepper gas leaked into an air-conditioning system and exposed hundreds of assembled high school students to the irritating chemical?

The answer is far from simple, but on Tuesday emergency responders from six area counties gathered at McLean County High School and experienced the mock scenario firsthand.

Hundreds of first responders from Task Force 3 Regional Response Team took part in the largest-scale exercise involving decontamination for the area with fire departments, hospitals and communications systems from Daviess, Hancock, Ohio, Henderson, Union and Webster counties.

The exercise was initiated by the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security. Tom Arnold, director of training programs, said the objective of the drill was to test the team's incident management capabilities and find areas of improvement.

"We're not looking for weaknesses or shortcomings, we're looking to find what the capabilities are ... any weaknesses they determine they can work on and enhance their strengths," he said.

Nearly 100 students filed out of the school pretending to be agitated from exposure to a gas that had supposedly been spilled in the chemistry lab and spread into an auditorium through the heating and cooling vents.

One by one, the students stripped down to bathing suits and were sent through inflated shower tents by officials decked out in Tychem Hazmat suits and air tanks.

Part of the exercise involved decontaminating special needs students some of whom were nonambulatory.

Within 30 minutes, more than half the students had been showered, redressed in gowns and triaged by paramedics and first responders from surrounding emergency medical services.

Hospitals in Owensboro, Ohio, Union and Henderson counties participated by rehearsing their response to mock patients as well.

David McCrady, battalion chief at the Owensboro Fire Department, said one of the main obstacles the task force faced was communication as most of the departments operate on different radio signals or wavelengths.

But after all the students were loaded onto a school bus and shipped to designated medical treatments, Joey McCaslin, assistant chief at the Princeton Fire Department who evaluated the function, said he saw no major flaws with the response from 41 combined agencies.

"Once they got started they were able to move the kids fairly rapidly, and if this was an actual situation, the quicker we could decontaminate them the better the outcome, so they did well," he said.

McCrady said the decontamination training is vital for departments because chemical spills can happen anywhere there are gatherings, whether it be the ammonia used at an ice skating rink or 500 kids in a school auditorium.

McLean County High School Principal Ashley Troutman said the day's events allowed him to evaluate and make improvements to the school's crisis plan.

"I'd rather be prepared and not need it than unprepared and need it," he said.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Special Operations, Training

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Improving Survival from Cardiac Arrest Using ACD-CPR + ITD

Using active compression-decompression CPR with an ITD has been shown to improve 1-year survival from cardiac arrest by 33%.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Philadelphia Fire Department Apologizes for Medic’s Jab at Police

Union head calls photos a slap in the face of officers.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire and EMS Crews Blame New Technology for Patient’s Death

Delayed response blamed on recurring dispatch problems.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Suspect Steals, Crashes Maryland Ambulance

One killed, others injured in Prince George’s County crash.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Truck Strikes Pedestrians in Scotland

Six killed in downtown Glasgow.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Tennessee Trench Rescue

Worker pulled from Roane County worksite.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Time’s Ebola Firefighters

Doctors, nurses and others saluted for fighting virus.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >