What would happen if powerfully-muscled horses broke free and trampled fair-going crowds?
That was the question answered with a mass casualty drill Aug. 2 at the Lorain County Fairgrounds. The live practice session tested the responses of Wellington and Rochester firefighters, as well as medics from the Southern Lorain County Ambulance District.
About 40 residents played “victims” who laid in wait for help to arrive. They wore makeup, prosthetics, and fake blood to add an extra touch of realism to the simulation.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is building a road map for how we’d all react to this sort of situation,” said SLCAD director Dave Knapp. “Some of the injured can go a while without treatment and some have to be out of here quickly. We’ve been toying with this idea for about a year. Every year we do a small simulation with the fair board members and we just wanted to take it a step further this time.”
Wellington fire chief Mike Wetherbee took command of multiple units of firefighters and EMTs, dividing the responders into groups and instructing them how to classify the seriousness of each injury.
“The state requires us to conduct hazardous situation exercises periodically,” he said. “We get graded on it, which exposes weaknesses and future points of emphasis. It helps everyone in the long run. We get to put our policies, procedures, and game plan out there. The more people we can get to understand that, the better. It also gives the state a good idea of the workings for reaction to an incident in the county.”
Wetherbee said the training also gives responders a better sense of the spontaneity that can go along with a crisis situation.
“I think overall things went well,” he said. “We accomplished our goal of walking through each position and explaining to the group how each piece of the puzzle fits into the entire scheme of things. We have manuals and emergency plans put together for the fair as well as a mass casualty plan. Anyone at anytime can get thrust into a command position. They can all go through our plans, find out what’s needed next, and move forward.”
The biggest threats to the fair are severe thunderstorms, flooding, a hazardous materials incident, and tornadoes.
Lorain County leads Ohio in both tornadoes and tornado related deaths since 2000 and is home to the largest east-west railroad corridor transporting hazardous materials in the nation, according to the Lorain County General Health District.
It also cites the close proximity of the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, as well as the New Madrid Fault Line as contributing factors to potentially dangerous scenarios.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Wellington firefighter Jason Dumke administers “treatment” to Kim Hamer, acting during a mock drill at the county fairgrounds.