(L-R) Junior Firefighters Rich Gokey, Dylan Morris and Coventry Firefighter Ashley Burger carry out ‘burn victim’ Rob Levesque during a training program at the Coventry High School July 28, 2012. Also waiting to help move the patient is Andrew Dimock of North Coventry. Photo by Marie Brennan
When local Junior Firefighters and Explorers arrived on the scene, they found victims with multiple open fractures, head lacerations and eviscerations across their bodies – the result of a science classroom accident.
With blood flowing from open wounds, the responders had to sort the patients, get them on ambulances and treat them after the explosion.
There was no one there to help them get through the incident. They were on their own.
Thankfully, what happened Saturday wasn’t real. The “victims” were actually EMT students with fake blood and wounds
The drama unfolded during a simulated exercise at Coventry High School, a surprise drill for the 20 Junior Firefighters and Explorers on Saturday morning (July 28).
Unbeknownst to them, it was planned three months ago.
Junior Firefighters from the Coventry Volunteer Fire Association and the North Coventry Volunteer Fire Department joined Mansfield Fire Explorers.
“When they first came in, they were very shocked,” Coventry Volunteer Fire Association Chief Joseph Carilli said. “They did very well, though, and it went a lot smoother for them than we thought.”
The simulated explosion, part of a “multiple-casualty incident,” put all of the junior members in charge, with department firefighters standing by to supervise and provide advice.
Carilli said the exercise helped firefighters use new first-aid techniques in “real-time” on 12 mock patients. Many of the junior members are already certified Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).
“Some of them are just stepping up from being Emergency Medical Responders,” Carilli said. “We tested their skills and gave them the opportunity to prove what they can do.”
The Junior Firefighters, with Junior Captain Ryan Boutin and Junior Training Officer Allyssa Caron taking the lead, sorted patients, assigned personnel to different areas and controlled the scene, Carilli said.
The junior members had to do splints, stop “open” wounds and care for burns from the explosion, he said.
The exercise at the high school utilized the entire school, Carilli said, with a mock hospital set up at the other end of the facility with a rotation of three ambulances.
The Junior Firefighters stabilized the patients, put them on stretchers and continued to treat them at the mock hospital.
Carilli said everything about the drill was done as in a real-life situation.
“The original call over our radio system for them was for 10 patients and it was paged out and dispatched directly to them,” he said.
Junior Firefighter Taylor Dimock of Coventry (and Jessica Davis of Mansfield, not shown) wait for help lifting their “patient,” Kenny Dautrich, to a stretcher. The Coventry Fire Department hosted a mock disaster at Coventry High School on July 28, 2012 as a training exercise. Photo by Marie Brennan
“We stayed out of their way and let them do their jobs… A lot of things were going on at the same time,” Carilli said. “There was a lot of learning going on, too. There’s a lot of learning by mistakes.”
“They got to do things they normally wouldn’t be able to,” he said. “Their skills and talents are amazing. We want them to retain and utilize what they’ve learned, that’s our goal.”
The entire operation took place over a couple of hours, Carilli said.
Afterwards, they were critiqued. “To be honest, they did fantastic,” Carilli said. “We are going to do more exercises like this in the future.”
Coventry High School Principal Michele Mullaly said the town is “so fortunate” to have such an extensive junior program “that supports leadership skills.”
She said it’s encouraging to see students so engaged. “We are all very proud,” Mullaly said. “These are outstanding young people.”
The exercise comes less than a year after three major disasters in town: the freak October snowstorm, tropical storm Irene and a home explosion late last year.
“Mass casualty incidents don’t happen that often in town,” Carilli said. “We are prepping these firefighters for the future. They are our future.”
Posted July 30, 2012 as edited by HTNP.com Editor Brenda Sullivan
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