• Michael Thornton

Attending a full-scale exercise

My reaction to the email.

First and foremost, I want to thank Carl Billey who is the director of the Roger Mills County Emergency Management for inviting me to be an observer for this full-scale exercise. 2 weeks ago I received an email from my Emergency Management professor stating that the RMCEM (Roger Mills County Emergency Management) team were going to hold an FSE (full-scale exercise) on April 8th. When I read this email for the first time I

was ecstatic as I saw this as a great opportunity to become more informed and because the previous semester I was enrolled in "Exercise, Design, and Evaluation" an Emergency Management course that focused

on tabletop exercises, functional exercises, and full-scale exercises. What is a full-scale Exercise? A full-scale exercise is an exercise where the agencies involved will act as if a real disaster has occurred. This type of exercise tests the capabilities of all agencies involved to be able to respond to a certain disaster. If an issue arises it gives that agency the chance to fix the error before a real

incident occurs. This is why certain agencies

are well equipped and respond in a timely manner during a real-life disaster. Now that you have a basic understanding of what an FSE is, let's get back to the topic at hand. The FSE in RMC began around 6 pm on April 8th. The scenario was that an individual's arm had become trapped in a hay baler near State Highway 33 and

N2010 Road. This most likely occurred because the individual was trying to retrieve an item that had become stuck in the hay baler. Volunteers on the Hammon Fire Department responded to this incident shortly after dispatch had communicated the necessary information to them. When the HFD arrived on the scene they immediately began trying to figure a way to dislodge the

trapped limb from the hay baler. Shortly after HFD arrived on the scene, the Roger Mills County Emergency Medical Services arrived. However, RMCEMS was BLS (Basic Life Support) meaning that they couldn't do much because they are not paramedics but rather EMTs. Even with this in mind, the EMTs continued to assess the situation. This is when

a field surgeon from the region 3 MERC was dispatched to the scene via Air Evac. (Helicopter) During this process, both the EMTs and volunteer firefighters began preparing the scene for the field surgeon. Then a lull in the action occurred as a real-life incident tied up the helicopter's ability to get the field surgeon to the scene on time. This brought up a question I had. What happens

when this type of incident occurs in real life and a helicopter is unable to bring a field surgeon to the scene? The answer is that Oklahoma Highway Patrol or another police agency will bring the field surgeon to the scene. After the helicopter crew completed its real-life emergency, they brought the field surgeon to the scene, however, since this was an exercise and not the real deal they had to

land further away from the scene, meaning that the field surgeon arrived on the scene via vehicle. In a way this allowed me to see both responses in one exercise. The field surgeon grabbed his equipment out of the vehicle he arrived in and quickly began assessing the situation at hand. The field surgeon determined that he was going to have to amputate the arm to free the subject from the

hay baler or else the subject may lose vital fluids and succumb to his injuries. A volunteer on the Hammon Fire Department then went into the cab of the tractor and opened the hay baler allowing the field surgeon to gain access to the arm from an easier spot. After assessing the situation again, the field surgeon began amputating the arm. In this exercise, the amputation took about a minute

to complete as the field surgeon was using a mechanical saw to perform the amputation. Normally amputations like this take about 18 seconds to perform, but given the complexity of the situation, it makes sense that it may take longer. Once free from the hay baler, the victim was then put on a stretcher. The exercise was then considered completed.

As an Emergency Management student in his final semester, I believe that all agencies responded correctly and swiftly. There seemed to be some communication problems between certain agencies, but that is why full-scale exercises exist so that we can mitigate issues like that in event that an incident like this occurs in real life. I myself was quite shocked with how thought out the FSE was and the complexity of it. I found this FSE to be extremely informative to the point where I asked the RMC EM Director Carl Billey if he could invite me to future FSE's to allow myself to better understand how certain situations should be handled in the event that I come upon a disaster while chasing storms and so that I can better serve you the client when speaking about disaster preparedness and creating disaster plans. Once again, I want to thank Carl Billey of the Roger Mills County Emergency Management for giving me this opportunity. I hope that you all enjoyed reading this blog and I hope that you have a great morning, day, or evening!


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