COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Law enforcement agencies, paramedics and fire/rescue squads from across the state ran a ‘large-scale rescue drill’ including boat tactics and emergency response procedures.
Timing is everything in these large-scale drills, according to first responders.
Nearly 150 pool noodles represented potential rescues. They were put in the river, retrieved and triaged for injuries. First responders say this simulated the possibility of a mass casualty situation involving one of the large passenger cruise lines that cruises the Tennessee River.
Rachel Berry with Lauderdale County AMR says once the rescues made it to land their job was to act fast.
“All that was really going through my head was ‘We have to get them triaged, we have to get them moved.’ Of course, I was depending on my team to come down and to hand them off as quickly as possible. I was trying to get my head wrapped around what was actually going on with the patient so that we could treat them properly,” Berry told News 19.
The drill is to enhance water incident response for medical, fire, and law enforcement personnel who would respond in the Tennessee River regional area. After the drill, the agencies reflected on what they could have done better.
“There were some improvements on the communications side, having an on-scene boat on the water do a little bit better, maybe a different staging area for the S-MORT or the County Coroner would have been an improvement,” Coast Guard Civilian Exercise Planner Joshua Reynolds told News 19.
Emergency response procedures are critical in all cases not just mass causality situations. Law enforcement agencies that participated today say they plan to stay ready.