Kern County (CA) Responders Hold Mass Casualty Drill

A Hall Ambulance Service ambulance.
Photo/Hall Ambulance Service

Ishani Desai

The Bakersfield Californian


A plane crashed on takeoff Thursday morning, injuring multiple people. Simultaneously, a media helicopter was downed by an assailant at the crash site.

Only, this incident didn’t actually happen.

Kern County first responder agencies held a training exercise Thursday to prepare for an emergency that calls for multi-agency collaboration to practice in the event of a mass-casualty incident.

“You only get a sense of what responder-safety issues might arise when you’re actually out there,” said Mark Witsoe, the director of Kern County’s airports. “You can learn from that and improve.”


Public safety departments must practice this training every three years to remain within Federal Aviation Administration compliance, Witsoe said. The drill exposed responders to a security incident, and then to a safety one. About 175 people and 15 departments participated in the drill.

Bakersfield College students acted as victims, with Kern County Fire Department firefighters, Hall Ambulance and others on the scene of the crash. The fake assailant, who downed the helicopter, was arrested by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office through the use of air support resources, unmanned aerial vehicles and ground personnel, Witsoe said.

“It’s not often that we get to all come together and practice these roles together in the same place,” said Kern County Sheriff Office spokeswoman Danielle Kernkamp.

You can reach Ishani Desai at 661-395-7417. You can also follow her at @idesai98 on Twitter.


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