Threats come in threesWashington County emergency services conduct drill Saturday morning
In the hopes of making an emergency drill to test the effectiveness of Washington County’s emergency services, the scenario called for a multiple threat of a pandemic springing up and a bus full of infected children, a vehicle accident and a plane crash with multiple injuries.
According to the scenario, children from the bus had been visiting a local farm. After the crash several of the children were complaining of symptoms of the bird flu, which the Washington County Public Health Department was vaccinating against. In another part of the county, a van crashed into a car as the result of spray from the crop duster. The pilot, upon seeing the accident, lost control and crashed in a field. Volunteers acted as casualties of the accident, each with makeup to simulate injuries.
“It went really well,” Washington County Emergency management Coordinator Larry Smith said. “Everyone got good praise for how they reacted. When we get the report on this, I’m sure we will find some items for the agencies to work on.”
Smith said that the drill is done every three years as a grant requirement for Washington County Public Health and the Washington County Hospital. Most of the agencies in the county aided in some form in the drill.
Washington County Public Health had set up a flu clinic inside the Washington County Extension Office. Several of the younger volunteers – friends and family members of the people involved in the drill, Smith said – were being treated for the illness.
On the simulation scene at the Washington County Fairgrounds, Washington County Ambulance, Washington County Rescue and the Washington Fire Department responded to the crash. At least eight casualties, some represented by mannequins to denote they were dead, were on scene. A radio call went out for mutual aid. Every department in the county radioed in how many people they could have respond and how long it would take them to get to the site.
Also part of the drill were the Washington County Communications Center, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
“We set up a unified command,” Smith said. “When several agencies are responding to an emergency, the commanders get together and form a plan of action to use.”
Smith said that he plans to have a similar live-action drill sometime within the next two years. Mostly, when Washington County emergency responders drill, it is what he calls a “tabletop drill.” During these drills, a scenario is given and the responders work out what actions they will take on the scene.