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I offer this EPLEX simulated airplane crash emergency exercise post and another on this blog in hopes they help other Americans to exercise to reduce the loss of life, injury, and property that results from such events. Disasters, man-made and natural, are a part of everyday life. If we are smart and learn from history, we prepare for them so that we reduce the cost in life and property when they occur.
Click any photo to enlarge it. Click each video below to see it play. There are more than I usually post but, given the importance of the topic, I think they are worth viewing...especially as instructional tools for first responders and other emergency workers and planners.
N.B.: My deep thanks to all the professional first responders, planners, American Red Cross personnel and others who made this exercise possible and who, day after day, protect me and my family through their dedication, hard work, and grit. You are much appreciated.
Background: On May 10, 2008, I participated as a "victim" in the Baltimore Washington International Air port's 2008 Triennial Emergency Exercise (EPLEX).
This exercise involved many emergency organizations and took place at BWI Airport, so it is beyond the means of many first responders. However, the ideas, strategy, planning, and tasks shown here may be useful to help others to develop and conduct their own exercises, and is offered in that spirit. Given the advance planning and organization that went into it, the emergency plan scenario section below should be very useful to emergency workers.
Note: As this was a NIMS exercise, anyone who conducts NIMS exercises may want to look into Breakaway Games NIMS exercise game.
My Character: A Six-Year Old with a Facial Injury
I played a six-year old child with a "facial injury" which the moulage artist (Karen L. Berg of the Queen Anne's County Department of Emergency Services) made up as an injury that can happen...an eye-ball out of it's socket.
When the emergency responders first appeared on the incident scene, they walked across the incident zone and called out for all who could walk to try to get over to the staging area for medical care and transport to a safe area.
It was classic triage. By clearing those who could walk, they returned to tag me and others who were seriously injured as "red." They brought a stretcher by to carry me across the field to an ambulance. I weigh 200 pounds dry...but it was raining and I was wet. They picked me up, struggled with me...and here is the miracle...one turned to lift me to a carrier which upset the balance. I was in the air about to go down...but the other three strained and struggled and breathed hard and no doubt pulled muscles...but made certain I never hit the ground.
I was an adult, this was "just" an exercise and they could have let me go...but they didn't.
I heard how hard they breathed as they struggled to right me and get me to the staging area for transport to the mock hospital tent. The next group quickly put a trauma bandage around my eye and I only heard the sounds of all the first responders...and they were all breathing hard.
It struck me then that if they will make this hard an effort for an exercise, imagine how much harder they will work if a plane really did fall from sky and casualties were littered all over the runway. (Kurt Vonnegut had it right in "God Bless You Mister Rosewater" where he said that if foreigners who hate us ever strike the politicians will bow before them but the fire fighters will flee to the mountains with their rifles and defend our freedoms.)
Emergency Plan Scenario, Rules, and Who Was Involved
As they describe the exercise: "The triennial EPLEX is a critical element in providing the mulit-agency training necessary to ensure high levels of proficiency on the part of all fo the professional fire, rescue,emergency medical, law enforcement, airport operations,and airline operations personnel that are required to respond to actual emergencies at the Airport.
What always strikes me about first responders is that they are common sense, salt-of-the-earth, very hard working, good, good people, and this exercise proved it once again.
Click this link to learn about a Volunteer Mobilization Center (VMC) which has been well tested nationwide and works.
Everyone involved in the exercise (American Red Cross, State Police, BWI, FAA, FBI, NTSB, TSA, DHS, MdTAP, BWI Airport Fire & Rescue, Anne Arundel County Fire & Rescue, Baltimore County Fire & Rescue, Baltimore City Fire & Rescue, Howard County Fire & Rescue, MD Transportation Authority Police, American Airlines [and even the funeral directors who are authorized to transport bodies during a mass casualty event] did a first-rate job. I sleep better at night knowing all these professionals are out there.
For more detail, click the pages below to enlarge them.
I would especially like to thank:
- All the anonymous first responders, emergency workers, state police, administrators, mortuary professionals, and others who improve the world daily...as here.
- Karen L. Berg of the Queen Anne's County Department of Emergency Services who did such an excellent moulage job on my eye that made me the "guy with the eye" during the exercise.
- James G. Anastasioin of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command, a fellow Carroll County CERT member, who keeps the emergency helicopters flying (one of which took my burned wife to the Johns Hopkins burn unit when our house burned down)
- The firemen and women who redoubled and helped hold me up when I almost went down.
On behalf of the Red Cross, I would like to sincerely thank all participants of the BWI Airport Exercise on Saturday.
Over 100 volunteers showed up in the rain at 6 o'clock in the morning to help.
Your contribution was critical to testing local emergency response plans.
Should an actual disaster occur, several hundred volunteers, administrators, and response workers now are more experienced and prepared to respond.
When someone asks you what you did this weekend, you can show them this news coverage -
, Central Maryland Chapter
Baltimore, MD 21215