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Disaster is only a drill

By Staff | Jun 14, 2008

Iowa, in recent weeks, has been terrorized by deadly tornadoes and fast-rising flood waters.

Without a doubt, First Responders around the state are qualified and capable to handle emergencies on a broad spectrum.

The adage “Practice Makes Perfect” is cliche but knowing what to do, when and how to it are just as important as being the first to respond to any catastrophe.

Closer to home, members of the Wallingford Fire Department will host the Emmet County Disaster Drill and Exercise on Saturday, June 21 from 1-4 p.m. at Wolden Park. This exercise will be held rain or shine.

Because the incident is occurring in the Wallingford fire district, the Wallingford Fire Department automatically takes charge.

Wallingford Fire Chief Jarrod Fischer said the mock disaster will involve a tornado and the aftermath with injuries in an attempt to practice quick life-saving response.

“The goal is to have everyone working together as a county with resources from adjacent counties assisting our efforts,” Fischer said. “We hope to develop emergency planning, test our resources and communications while fine-tuning standard operations and procedures.”

Wolden Park will conduct business as usual and will be open to individuals planning to camp that weekend.

Fischer said campers will be contacted on Friday, June 20 with information about the planned mock disaster.

“When the drill starts at 1 p.m., the Iowa Department of Transportation Commercial Vehicle Enforcement personnel will block and temporarily shut down 450th Avenue (N40). The campers will be able to get in and out at any time because we don’t want this to be an inconvenience to them.”

The disaster will involve

“10 patients” who will need to be transported to Avera Holy Family Health.

“One of the patients will be transported by helicopter to the hospital. Up to 20 patients will be receiving first aid at the treatment and triage area set up at the park.”

Scenarios within the disaster drill will include a missing child and an individual trapped in a car.

“Five other victims will be water-related and one will “drown.

The drowning victim will be Rescue Randy who will be recovered from the lake by the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Dive Team.

Fischer said sometime midmorning a mock tornado watch will be announced for Emmet County and the pagers of First Responders will go off.

“Seldom visible to the public, the dispatchers at the law enforcement center are First Responders too. They are the communicating link between the public and safety forces in the field,” Fischer said.

He will assume the incident commander position at the incident command post.

“Our main focus will be coordinating emergency efforts among the different responders to save lives in a practice situation. Unfortunately, this scenario can become all too real all too quickly anywhere in Iowa,” Fischer said. “From triage/treatment to transporting patients, we need to establish routines that are efficient and timely.”

At 1 p.m., the exercise gets under way and will involve the following First Responders:

n Wallingford Fire Department/Emergency Medical Services.

n Estherville Fire Department.

n Estherville Ambulance Service.

n Estherville Police Department.

n Emmet County Conservation.

n Emmet County Sheriff’s Department.

n Emmet County Emergency Management.

n Dispatchers at the Emmet County Law Enforcement Center.

n Emmet County Public Health.

n Gruver Fire Department.

n Ringsted Fire Department/Ambulance Service.

n Armstrong Fire Department.

n Avera Holy Family Health.

n Avera Air Care.

n The American Red Cross.

n Lone Rock Ambulance Service.

n Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

n Iowa State Patrol.

n Iowa Department of Transportation Commercial Vehicle Enforcement.

n Arnolds Park/Okoboji Dive Team.

n Terril Ambulance Service.

n Palo Alto County Ambulance Service.

There will be three designated areas for rescue and recovery efforts, including:

n The green space near the volleyball court for patient triage victims as soon as the twister whips through the area.

n The area near the shelter house is where the auto-extrication exercise will be conducted. This life-saving effort will incorporate the Jaws of Life.

n A site next to the new Emmet County Nature Center for the water emergency and drowning.

The public information officer will be Jamey Parker.

Evaluators for the afternoon exercise will be Kossuth County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Kelley and Dickinson County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Ehret.

Emergency Medical Services evaluators will be Steve Hopkins, Lake Park Ambulance/Dickinson County Emergency Medical Services; Jeff Messerole, Dickinson County Emergency Medical Services.

Fire evaluators will be Spirit Lake Fire Chief Dave Kollasch and Joe Vanderlaan, Spirit Lake Fire Department safety officer.