Mike Savage, deputy chief and exercise coordinator with the Blackpool Fire Department, said the live mock exercise will give all the agencies involved practical hands-on experience and test the community emergency plans. File photo

Emergency exercise to test community’s disaster response

Mock carbon monoxide leak emergency exercise will be taking place on May 28

A live mock carbon monoxide leak emergency exercise will be taking place on May 28, where emergency service agencies from around the Clearwater area will test the community’s ability to respond to a major disaster.

The event, happening at Clearwater Secondary School (CSS), will have students and staff volunteer to play victims overcome by a carbon monoxide leak in the school.

“The live mock is where all the agencies get practical hands-on experience and test the community emergency plans, as many things have changed over the years, and we pick a situation that would involve all the agencies,” said Mike Savage, deputy chief and exercise coordinator with the Blackpool Fire Department.

“We selected CSS with a mock carbon monoxide leak and structured it as to how it would come into the fire department as an alarm, how we’ll respond, what we’ll get for information, and then how the crews will respond once they get on scene, do their assessments, start to stabilize it, and then find out they have 40 people who are overcome (by carbon monoxide) and 17 who are unaccounted for.”

Agencies involved with the scenario are Clearwater, Blackpool, and Vavenby Volunteer Fire Departments, BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS), Clearwater RCMP, Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital, the District of Clearwater (DOC), Thompson Nicola Regional District (TNRD), Emergency Management BC, Kamloops Fire Dispatch and CSS.

BCEHS will be set up in a triage area, simulating treatment before transporting mock victims to Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital, where doctors and nurses will test the emergency protocols for the hospital to handle a mass casualty event.

Kamloops Fire Rescue Dispatch will help coordinate the radio traffic and give information to the incident commanders on site, providing the responders a real-time recording and sense of what actually comes into a dispatch centre.

“In partnership with Interior Health and Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital, it was decided to give us a scenario that would test our people as well as the hospital’s, so the people we recover from the building as the teams search will be taken to the hospital and there are casualty simulation cards the hospital staff has prepared for their staff,” Savage said.

“It’ll outline signs and symptoms, varying degrees of exposure and the effects of carbon monoxide; some will be conscious, some won’t, and what it’s going to do with a mass casualty incident like this is stretch all the emergency resources to the max, and it’s going to force the activation of other emergency plans for the bigger organizations like BC Ambulance, our emergency operation centres, the RCMP and ourselves.”

Another part of the event is to help responders understand what information needs to be provided to make informed decisions in real time, and because the exercise involves Clearwater, Blackpool and Vavenby Fire Departments, it’ll also give the three organizations a chance to see how they all train, work and respond together.

“We would like to remind the public that this is a training exercise, no one is at risk, but we must also ensure the training area remains safe, so no unauthorized personnel will be allowed into the site once the scenario begins,” Savage said.

“The areas of Murtle Crescent, from the Medical Clinic and Ace Western driveways to CSS, will be taken up with emergency vehicles and teams and Park Drive rear entrance to CSS will also be controlled and off limits except for emergency vehicles.”


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