Disaster Drill Prepares First Responders for Worst Case Scenario

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By Greg Bokar, Staff Reporter
The Observer

This past weekend, CaseEMS staged a large-scale mass casualty incident (MCI) drill. The drill took place on Saturday, Oct. 29 and simulated an RTA bus crash into the greenie station in the North Residential Village.

About 60 students participated in the drill, acting as victims of the accident. Members of CaseEMS, Cleveland EMS, University Hospital EMS, Case Western Reserve University Police, Cleveland Police, and Cleveland Fire participated in the MCI drill on-scene. Members from the various departments did everything that would have typically been done after such an incident, including gathering accident statements, triage, and placing sheets over the dead.

The simulation was a large-scale operation, requiring five CWRU police and security officers, a Cleveland EMS ambulance, and two trucks from the Cleveland Fire Department. As part of the drill, 10 patients were transported to the Univeristy Hospital Emergency Department to receive further simulated care.

Simulated injuries included everything from broken bones and skull fractures to heart attacks and impaled objects. The idea was to depict as many realistic situations as possible.

When asked about the event, CaseEMS shift supervisor Patrick Finnegan said "CaseEMS thinks that the annual MCI drill is an opportunity for responders to practice skills, interact with local departments, practice the ICS [Incident Command System,] raise some awareness, and have some fun with student involvement."

"These drills help test emergency response procedures and identify strengths and weaknesses that can be addressed before a real emergency hits," CWRU Police Department Sergeant Jeffrey Daberko explained.

"Drills also help get first responders familiar with how things are supposed to function in an emergency, so when a real emergency occurs their response becomes second nature; everyone knows what to do already, ideally," Daberko noted. "A big factor in all emergency drills is testing communications procedures. Ensuring everyone can talk to one another, especially in critical situations, is something we always practice during drills."

According to CWRU Police Department Corporal Paul Owens, "During the drill it was awesome to see and understand the relationship and roles between CaseEMS, Cleveland Fire, Cleveland EMS and Case Police. All the departments work well with each other and were able to get the people involved the care they needed."

CaseEMS EMTs, who organized the drill, are certified by the State of Ohio and are capable of responding with basic life support. CaseEMS EMTs have also completed at least a one-semester course to obtain the certification to practice as an EMT-B.

CaseEMS is a campus-based, student-operated group that provides basic life support service to campus medical emergencies. CaseEMS is dispatched by CWRU Police and Security and can transport stable, ambulatory patients free of charge to University Hospitals if they require additional treatment.

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