This Is Only A Drill

November 19, 2011

BJ has her severed arm treated during the second round of the drill

When I was in college, one of my friends arranged for a group of us to take part in a casualty drill at a hospital in Evansville, IN.

Long story short: I was impaled by a pole (through my chest) and wheeled to the morgue to die. Apparently, in that particular drill, I got a good deal. Several of my friends had such bad experiences, they declared that if they should ever be injured, under no circumstances were the rest of us to allow them to be taken to that hospital.

Today, I participated in a casualty drill for our local Community Emergency Response Team. Henderson’s Emergency Management allows civilians to take a class to learn how to serve as responders in the event of any kind of emergency situation. Today highlighted the importance of having people in our community who are skilled and able to handle crisis situations.

The scene for today’s drill was a tornado at school. A lot of the volunteer victims were JROTC students from the high school, so that was fitting.  Two families from our church/youth group and I also attended as volunteer victims.

The CERT class was so big that they divided them into four groups and each group took a turn at search, rescue and triage (while the other groups worked on other exercises).

The first two rounds, I played victims with minor injuries. In the first round, I was positioned next to a girl who had a pole through her arm, so I played hysterical, freaked out friend as loud and obnoxiously as I could.

Me: There’s a pole through her arm. She has a POLE.Through.Her.ARM!

Rescuer: Well, it’s going to be all right.

Me: I doubt it. She has a POLE.Through.Her.ARM!

Rescuer: We’re going to fix her right up. You just calm down.

Me: How am I going to calm down? She has a POLEThroughherARM!!

During the third and fourth rounds, I played a parent arriving at the school after the incident, worried about my child and determined to find him. There were four of us assigned this role. We hid behind the row of ambulances and waited for a chance to run toward the building and attempt entry.

The first attempt, I made it all the way into the building and halfway through the sea of victims and rescuers, yelling and screaming for Andrew (my fictional son), before a rescuer caught me and dragged me out. I attempted to sneak back in after a rescuer left me unattended, but I was quickly caught and pulled over to triage to wait (and be watched by the rescuers working there).

The second attempt, I had renamed my child “Hector” and walked to the door of the building as calmly and nonchalantly as possible. A rescuer heard there were “parents” on the scene this time, so she was waiting for me and stepped in front of me. As soon as we made eye contact, I started screaming for Hector as loudly and hysterically as I could manage without laughing.

The high school kids got a little more dramatic each round. By the third round, a group of boys, having been rescued with minor injuries were waiting outside the door, keeping two rescuers busy with their sobbing and concern for a friend trapped inside. “Why, God, why Joe?” one boy wailed at the sky. About three minutes later, Joe wandered out of the building on his own two feet, possibly forgotten about by rescuers, and was immediately surrounded and celebrated.

If you get a chance to volunteer at a casualty drill, you should do it for two reasons: 1. You’ll have an exciting time and 2. You’ll be helping a team of people who might rescue you one day practice and prepare for the worst possible scenarios.

One response to This Is Only A Drill

  1. Thank you, and all, who helped us train these responders. I was rather sorry our time ended! I was having fun! A passerby wandered onto our scene and stood by the building, and as I passed by she remarked, “Cool! Free theatre!”

    Our CERT teams are trained to respond to emergencies in this order: 1. Themselves and their family. 2. Their immediate neighborhoods, and then 3. If needed I would deploy them to other areas which may need some man-power.

    Thanks again for the Free-Theatre! LOL