20 April 2012

Mass-Casualty Earthquake Drill held..... Preparing as they did before 9/11?

Robert Adamson has a fake injury applied to his face before an earthquake response exercise Thursday in Ogden. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)

Anthony Thompson was in shock, disoriented and combative.
As an emergency medical responder restrained him in the middle of a parking lot, Thompson screamed out in pain.
Thompson said he had been in the lobby of an old building on 20th Street. Glass was embedded in his skin and bones were sticking through his skin. He was crying, coughing and had become disorderly. Emergency rescuers had to hold him down, so he wouldn't hurt himself further.
But none of it was real. Instead, it was a multiagency, multijurisdictional mass-casualty drill. Emergency officials wanted to make it as life-like as possible, so they could test the region's ability to communicate and coordinate a response to a catastrophic earthquake in Northern Utah.
The mock scenario continued inside an adjacent building, where dozens of people were waiting for help after suffering their own injuries. Many of them were trapped.
"Help. Please. They left us," screamed Hallie Smock. "We were working overtime when the earthquake hit. I've got burns all over my body. A pole went through my leg. I'm bleeding really bad."
A piece of ceiling had fallen on Saileen Baughman just as she was entering the restroom.
Robert Adamson slammed into a window, embedding shattered glass in his hand and face.
"I don't know whether I'm going to live," he said. "I'm worried about my family and my two daughters."
"These are the kinds of things that will happen during a real disaster," said Kirk Freeman, Ogden city emergency coordinator. "People are going to panic and become very stressed and disoriented. This is a great way for us to look at our plans, make improvements and deal with this as if it were the real deal."
The drill began at the old Navy and Army Reserve, 980 20th St., and included 120 students from Clearfield Job Corps, who played the role of victims. Each victim was triaged, treated and transported to McKay-Dee Hospital or Ogden Regional Medical Center by bus, ambulance or helicopter. The goal was to have this done within 60 minutes of the earthquake.
A command post was on site, in addition to the Weber Metro Heavy Rescue Team, Weber County Animal Response Team and additional resources from the Northern Utah Regional Response Team.
"We are working with several counties, including Weber, Davis, Box Elder, Morgan, Cache, Rich," said operations controller Lance Peterson. "Everyone will be communicating and working together under the same guidelines."
Peterson said if a 7.0 earthquake were to hit Northern Utah, it is estimated there would be around 3,000 deaths and 37,000 homes destroyed.
Ron Ball, risk management director for Ogden, was at the scene to make sure no one actually got hurt.
"We're here to make sure things stay safe during the drill," he said. "We don't want people to really get hurt."
Ball said in the many drills he's been involved in, he has never seen an actual injury.
However, Ogden School District public relations director Donna Corby said, two years ago during a disaster drill at Ogden High School, one of the "victims" went into labor.
"There were EMTs everywhere, and of course, they stabilized her and got her to the hospital, where she delivered a healthy baby," Corby said.
Corby said the school district was awarded a readiness emergency management FEMA grant. That grant money allows the district to be as prepared as possible in the event of a disaster, she said.
"We have 12,600-plus students and if we have an earthquake of this magnitude, we will not be releasing any of those students," she said. "We will keep them until their parents come for them and that may mean they have to spend the night. So we have safety bags and food and water on all of our campuses. We practice these drills and take them very seriously."
Lucy Astorga, who was trapped in one of the buildings, said the drill felt real to her.
"I've never been in an earthquake before, but this is very scary," she said. "A lot of things go through your mind, and you hope someone will find you and help you."

By Jamie Lampros

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