Training Day: Volunteers Trained in Tornado Disaster Response | Local News
CLINTON — The shrill beeps of fire alarms pierced the air as dusty smoke obscured visibility down a long, narrow hallway.
Inside the rooms leading from the hall, eight victims were nestled among rubble and covered in debris waiting to be rescued. Working in teams, volunteer rescuers methodically walked through each room, calling and listening to survivors. Once they found a victim, they walked them down a hallway to safety, while asking questions.
“Can you tell us what day it is,” a rescuer asked a victim.
“No,” replied the victim.
Another question: “Can you say what your name was again?”
The victim’s responses were shared aloud with the triage team, whose members escorted her down a second hallway and to a mock treatment area.
That was the scenario repeated over and over on Sunday during the Clinton County Community Emergency Response Team’s tornado response training at the city’s firefighter training grounds. Clinton, the first time it had been used for CERT tornado rescue training.
A full class of 20 volunteers donned helmets, vests and safety gear for the hands-on session led by Clinton County Emergency Management Coordinator Chance Kness. Training was one of the topics that residents wishing to become CERT members took during a weekend course in disaster medical operations, search and rescue, fire extinguisher use and fire safety, disaster preparedness, disaster psychology, hiding and terrorism. sensitization. The course ended Sunday afternoon with the tornado disaster simulation.
The CERT trainees were divided into three groups and rotated through three parts of the scenario: rescue, triage, and treatment. As they were briefed on their responsibilities during the tornado rescue drill, the volunteer victims prepared to play their part. A special effect make-up technique, known as casting, was used to give the victims realistic-looking injuries, ranging from bruises and burns to gaping head wounds.
The victims were settled in the rooms of the exercise area, which were then filled with dusty smoke to obscure the vision of the rescuers. They would then walk through each room, moving the victims down the hallway, either helping them with one arm to hold on or taking them away.
One by one, the eight victims were taken out and asked their names and basic questions to assess the extent of their injuries. They were then handed over to the triage team who escorted them to the treatment area, along with bandages, medical supplies and beds to care for the injured in the most realistic way possible.
After the first round of the script, Clinton’s Andrew Smith, a CERT member who assumed the role of a victim, was laid on a cot with a large bandage wrapped around his head.
“It was a bit strange sitting there waiting for people to come find me,” he said of waiting to be rescued in the smoky room. “I was in a small room off the hallway covered in trash cans. I was buried in rubble.
As he was brought in for treatment, he told rescuers he could not remember his name.
“I have blunt force trauma to the head and some pretty deep lacerations,” he said.
Nearby, Isaac Tharp, a high school student from Clinton, said he was working to become a CERT member. He had just finished as a lifeguard.
“I really enjoyed it,” Tharp said of the experience. “There were some surprises. I didn’t quite know what to expect. They told us it was going to be dark and they were going to have something to simulate dust. I was surprised by how little visibility there was. They said we weren’t going to be able to see very well even with a flashlight. Sometimes you could only see a few meters. Some of them were making noise and told us how to organize ourselves as we went through the building so that we made sure we covered every room.
Established 11 years ago, CERT plays an important role in the mission of the Clinton County Office of Emergency Management. This mission is to coordinate, plan, train and respond to local emergencies and large-scale disasters. The office works alongside local government, agencies and businesses to put plans in place and serves as a conduit for securing resources and assistance from state and federal governments after a disaster.
A prime example was the team’s work in 2020, when CERT volunteers made masks for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, responded to the aftermath of the August 10, 2020 derecho that damaged cities and crops throughout the county, and the July 2020 search for Breasia Terrell, a missing Davenport girl.