Dammeron Valley Fire & Rescue (DVFR) conducted its first Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) Training on Saturday 17 September at the Dammeron Valley Fire & EMS Training Center grounds. MCI Training is conducted to prepare DVFR Fire and EMS members to respond to complex incidents involving multiple patients and requiring complex incident analysis and decision making.
DVFR’s first MCI Training simulated a two-vehicle collision involving six passengers, as well as a bicyclist who was hit by one of the vehicles. The scenario included one of the passengers being ejected from the vehicle she was in, simulating a scene that could be encountered in vehicle accidents on SR-18 when occupants are not wearing seatbelts.
Upon commencement of the exercise, DVFR Fire and EMS crews were paged alerting them of a serious accident on SR-18. The DVFR members and apparatus were staged in nearby Veyo to simulate response time and travel to the scene. Upon arrival, DVFR members were faced with a severe collision and a chaotic scene with patients screaming and calling for assistance. “Our goal is to make the scene as realistic as possible,” explained DVFR Director of Emergency Medical Services Colleen Homer. “We want our Fire and EMS professionals to encounter a situation that is initially out of control so that they can turn to their certifications and ongoing training to begin bringing order to the scene.”
Scene size-up included initial triage of patients to prioritize care, as well as stabilizing the vehicles to prevent additional injuries. Next, crews worked to extricate patients from the vehicles and staged them according to their triage level. Once the patients were out of the vehicles, DVFR EMS crews worked to stabilize and prepare them for medical transport. This care included checking and monitoring vital signs, applying bandages and tourniquets to stop bleeding, and administering IV fluids and medications. Treatment and Transportation Unit Leaders were established to handle patient care and transport along with Medical Communications to coordinate with the local hospital. Mutual aid for this first event was simulated and in the event of a real MCI incident would have been requested. All of this was accomplished while patients were screaming, crying, and acting confused or lost.
More than 25 DVFR members participated in the exercise with assistance from doctors and staff from Rocky Vista University (RVU). RVU provided technical assistance and helped the patients look as realistic as possible with makeup and simulated blood called “moulage.” Six volunteer “patients” helped create the realistic and chaotic scene. Planning and coordinating for the scenario took more than three months.
For this initial MCI Training, DVFR conducted the entire simulation with DVFR members. Future MCI Training events will incorporate other agencies in Washington County. “The ultimate goal of MCI Training is to provide Fire and EMS professionals an opportunity to work a complex incident involving a multi-agency response,” stated DVFR Fire Chief John Hennessey. “We used this initial scenario to set a bar for our members and we expect to raise that bar each time we conduct an event. The next MCI Training will be more complex and involve more coordination but will also provide an opportunity to test and strengthen a county-wide response that can include additional Fire and EMS departments, transport agencies, and law enforcement.”
Director Homer added, “We appreciate the support from our patient volunteers and the team at RVU for helping us to create a realistic scene. Our members once again proved their professionalism and their dedication to providing high-quality response and care.”
When asked how the community can support the next MCI Training, Director Homer smiled, “We need more donated vehicles.”