Rogue Valley Emergency Responders Practice Mass Casualty Drill

By Ron Brown

WHITE CITY, Ore. — Fire trucks and ambulances swarmed to White City this morning in an orchestrated drill to see how well emergency crews could deal with mass casualties. This exercise is an annual drill to help local hospitals certify their emergency operations; but it also focused attention on incidents in which children are severely injured.

It had all the elements of a real disaster: Three cars piled up on a street in White City, adult and children actors made up to look like bleeding, banged-up crash victims, and high-tech mannequins with severe injuries; the fire trucks and ambulances all rushing to the scene following a 911 call.

“So we’re looking at our capabilities for treating injured pediatric patients in large numbers. And we’re looking at the system,” explains Mercy Flights Education Manager Leslie Terrell. “How we manage a scene like this, how we communicate with the hospitals and other agencies; how we get the patients to the hospitals in a timely manner and then transition care over to the hospitals.”

Not only is this exercise a test of fire fighter and emergency crews skills, but it’s also a test of how to co-ordinate among a number of agencies, including area hospitals.

“We do the skills themselves every day. But the communication between multiple agencies and multiple players on a large scene like this, is always the most difficult part and is the part that needs to be practiced,” says Mercy Flights Manager Ken Parsons

“It’s a good exercise. The hospitals are also involved on the other end of this, because this drill is, is for everyone’s benefit, but it’s an annual requirement for them. And we help them meet their annual requirement and we get some good training out of it,” states Battalion Chief Rod Edwards

The drill is sponsored by the state emergency medical services for children and ODOT. Following this morning’s drills, participating agencies were scheduled to debrief to go over what they learned.