On Saturday, June 10, Memorial Fire Company in Slaughter Beach sponsored a mock school bus accident drill in order to train their members on what to do should a serious accident occur in this area. Chief Terry Jester said that the drill was a huge success, providing not only their fire company with valuable training, but also neighboring companies, hospitals, paramedics and EMT staff.
“The drill was held on Bakersfield Road,” Chief Jester said. “Fitzgerald’s provided us with a bus we had trained on before, placing it on its side on the road so we could create a mock accident scene. There were 25 children placed inside the bus with different injuries and we worked to extricate them, triage them and transport them to area hospitals where they were ‘treated’ for those injuries.”
In addition to Memorial Fire Company, South Bowers, Carlisle and Milton Fire Companies assisted. Sussex County Emergency Service, Life Net, Delaware State Police Aviation, Emergency Operations Center, Beebe Hospital, Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital and the Delaware Tech paramedic students also participated in the drill.
“It went very well,” Chief Jester said. “There was an instructor in EMS there and the DEMA Director, AJ Shaw, who assessed what we did and made suggestions on what we could improve. The kids seemed to enjoy it. We told them before we started that if any of them were scared or uneasy, we would stop the drill and let them out, but none of them asked to stop. It was a great success.”
Chief Jester said that they conduct these types of drills every five years or so, rotating the responsibility between fire companies. It provides the companies information on equipment they may need to add should a true emergency occur, helps them develop better communications between fire companies as well as other first responder units that would be included in a real accident. He also said it tests medics and other medical personnel to learn the best way to triage patients and to treat them at the scene.
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During his time in the fire service, Chief Jester said he has responded to two school bus accidents. He said the biggest issue they have is identifying the children who are involved in the accident as parents often appear at the scene and take the child before fire service personnel can document that they were involved.
“I get that parents want to be with their child after an accident, I would want to be myself,” Chief Jester said. “But, parents need to wait at the scene with their child until emergency personnel arrive and are notified who the child is. Often, the driver is not sure how many children were still on the bus during the accident. They are upset, frightened and confused as much as the child. At one scene, we hunted for a child for hours because the driver knew they were on the bus. We finally learned that the child’s parent had arrived on the scene and taken them before emergency personnel arrived. Parents just need to wait until we get there before they take the child.”
Chief Jester said the fire companies spent about eight weeks training for the mock accident. In order to provide additional training, a new officer from Milton was put in charge. Chief Jester said that it was a great learning experience for him. He also said that the hospitals were great to work with.
“Despite being busy with people who were really sick or injured, Beebe and Milford both stepped up to the plate and did what they needed to do,” Chief Jester said. “Milford identified an issue with some radios that they can now correct.”
Ed Huey, who is a Milford Police Lieutenant and whose son, Logan, participated in the drill with Cub Scout Pack 116, said that these drills are critical so first responders know what to do in a real emergency.
“I hope you never have to see your child loaded onto a backboard then loaded into a Medevac helicopter,” Lt. Huey said. “But if you do, my prayer is that it is a result of helping the local fire companies perform an exercise/drill so that they are ready if the real thing ever does occur. To the Scouts from Cub Scout Pack 116, I am very glad that you are all safe and that this is only a drill.”
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