In an emergency, it’s best to be prepared. To make sure first responders are prepared for what Reedsburg Area Ambulance and Emergency Management Director Josh Kowalke called a “mass casualty” incident, a training exercise was held Oct. 24 at Reedsburg Area High School.
The exercise simulated a bus rolling over at Reedsburg Area High School. The drill involved a team of people working together from the Reedsburg Fire Department, Reedsburg EMS and other law enforcement and emergency responders within the city.
“We typically do a drill every year in Reedsburg,” Kowalke said. “It helps the hospital, it helps emergency services come together and work together and test our plans.”
Members of the Reedsburg Fire Department used extrication tools to make entryways through the rolled over bus. Unlike an emergency, participants entered the bus after the doors were removed and the bus was stabilized.
Once emergency services evaluated “injuries” and transferred participants out of the bus, EMS did further evaluation before being transported to the hospital for medical professionals to enact their plan for treatment.
A press conference was held at city hall to present information to the media and public. Reedsburg Public Information Officer Steven Compton, Reedsburg School District Communications and Media Specialists Kari Stanek and Reedsburg Area Medical Center Vice President of Marketing and Customer Experience Carla Mercer were present.
“It gets everybody working together,” Kowalke said. “It allows all the real players to come together and practice together.”
The drill involved several Reedsburg Area High School students who were given a scenario to reenact, from minor injuries to fatal if an incident were to happen.
Skyler Correia, 15, portrayed the bus driver in the drill and said he learned the process first responders do to save people in the event of an emergency. Logan Gillis, 17, said it was fun to see how the process works for first responders, as well as to act in the scenario.
Kassidy Kleever, 16, said she was surprised of how emergency services examined injuries inside the wreckage of the bus before being transferred off the bus for further examination by EMS.
“I figured they (the fire department) would get everybody out first instead of examine them before they move them,” Kleever said.
Kowalke said an action review will be composed for emergency services and law enforcement to provide an overview of the drill and make any changes to current emergency plans.
“We can update our plans and learn from any mistakes that were made,” he said.
Kowalke said he not only hopes the first responders involved in the event learn what to do in a mass causality event, but also the community learns Reedsburg emergency services are constantly preparing for crisis.
“We hope nothing like this ever happens but bad things happen so we hope that we are showing the community that we’re prepared,” Kowalke said. “We’re constantly training all of our departments and we’re really trying to do the best that we can with the resources we have.”