By Carrie Larsen
WIBW – September 16, 2016
First responders need to be prepared for any type of emergency, even ones that are extremely rare.
Thursday evening at Forbes Field, three local fire departments learned what they should do in the event of a mass casualty.
“Mass casualties in themselves are going to be stressful. They’re going to be chaotic,” said Shawnee Heights Fire Battalion Chief Brian Aeschliman.
Aeschliman was in charge of the training exercise. He brought together members of the Shawnee Heights Fire Department, 190th Air Refueling Wing, and the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority for a realistic mock airplane crash as Forbes Field.
“We have approximately 17 patients, most of which are pediatric patients. They have to come out and triage those patients,” said Aeschliman.
Triage means assessing the level of injury per victim, and attending to the ones who need immediate care.
To make Thursday’s mock mass casualty as realistic as possible, the victims were covered in fake blood, cuts, and bullet holes.
“Several of the people who are out here are family members of the fire department,” said Aeschliman.
Before taking their positions in the grass right next the runways, each crash victim received a piece of paper giving their status. Code green meant they were the walking wounded, code yellow for stable but need observation, red for immediate treatment, and black for deceased.
“That piece of paper actually gives their initial vital signs, which in this case is only a respiratory rate, a level of consciousness, and a perfusion. That is all the firefighters are going to get to decide what the order of triage should be,” said Aeschliman.
Shawnee Heights Fire Lt. Brian Dodds arrived in the last engine on scene, and said it really sunk in just how important these training exercises are.
“These things always cross our mind, especially because our district is right here next to the airport. This is always a possibility. We prepare for it and train for it every chance we get, and hopefully, we never have to use it,” said Lt. Dodds.