CUSTER COUNTY— It is the worst case scenario, you are at a concert and shots ring out stopping the music as people dive for cover. Some escape with only scratches, but others are not so lucky. This is the type of situation that is nearly impossible to prepare for, but luckily there are those preparing for this exact scenario. On Saturday, October 13, the Custer County Emergency Management team created this scenario with around thirty volunteers and first responders from all across Custer County. The drill took months of preparation to set up a scene and make it as real as possible.
Initially the idea was to use high school drama kids, but due to recent national events, the idea was scrapped because of the possibility of the adverse mental affects that could have occurred to the kids. Volunteer adults were used instead to-which they were covered in makeup and fake blood. The event began in the morning with participants, media, first responders, and anyone else involved checking in to make sure there were no public on-lookers or any other unauthorized persons at the fairgrounds. After the preparations were complete, the chaos began.
In special situations, such as this, there is a proper procedure that all first responders must take to not only keep others safe, but to keep themselves safe as well. As fake shots rang out, volunteers fell to the ground with “injuries” and attempted to distract and draw out those who were following protocol. Evaluators were stationed at the drill taking careful note of what every responder was doing to be used later. As the drill continued, officers from the Broken Bow Police Department and the Custer County Sherriff’s Office cleared the scene, which then allowed the EMT’s to move in and begin working on the injured.
Those with the most severe injuries were sent immediately to Jennie M. Melham Memorial Medical Center where a mock trauma unit was on stand-by. Other participants were sent in their cars to try and overwhelm the hospital and see how they would respond. The Custer County response time as a whole was very impressive and once the surrounding towns arrive, it did not take long for all of the injured to be picked up and taken to the hospital.
Following the drill, an input session allowed the EMT’s, police, volunteers, hospital staff, and others to voice what they felt, heard, and seen during the drill. This also was a great opportunity to find out what each part of the drill was hearing and what they saw as they approached the scene for the first time.
This drill not only helps prepare those in what they are supposed to do as this situation happens, but also being able to work together as one big county unit. This type of drill helps prepare first responders to be able to save lives even in absolute chaos.