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EMS exercise draws area agencies to train on mass casualty scenario

‘Working together on this is totally awesome’

Robin Embry,  advanced EMT, gives aid to a victim in last Saturday’s mass casualty incident exercise, held at the grain elevators in Fenn last Saturday, May 12.

Photo by David Rauzi
Robin Embry, advanced EMT, gives aid to a victim in last Saturday’s mass casualty incident exercise, held at the grain elevators in Fenn last Saturday, May 12.

— With the swirl around him of injured accident victims and personnel from multiple response agencies treating them and processing for transport, Grangeville EMT and staging officer, Brian Adams, was adamant in one command:

“Try not to get any blood on the carpet,” he said as a patient was loaded into the back of his minivan. “My wife will yell less.”

Multiple city, state, county and federal emergency service and law enforcement agencies came together for more than two hours in Fenn last Saturday morning, May 12, to participate in a mass casualty incident exercise. This was the culmination of a few month’s planning to evaluate agencies on their procedures and implementation in such a situation.

“We’ll make a big report and we’ll give it to everybody, and they’ll look further into this on areas they can improve upon,” said spokesman Mike Neelon, manager for Latah County Disaster Services. “They’ll identify how they can improve, whether it be with training, equipment, or coming together more so people feel more comfortable working together.”


(L-R) Pixie Jones of Ferdinand and Scottie Calhoun of Grangeville played victims in last Saturday’s mass casualty incident exercise, held at the grain elevators in Fenn.


Betty Beckman of Grangeville receives treatment as a victim in last Saturday's May 12 mass casualty incident exercise held at Fenn.

Saturday’s scenario took place at the Primeland grain elevators at Fenn off U.S. Highway 95. The scenario was a collision between a bus and passenger van. Overall, 27 victims play-acted on scene with realistic makeup simulating injuries from head wounds to protruding bones. Some victims were scattered about, as if ejected from the bus. Those in the van were trapped, requiring mechanical extraction.

“I was declared dead. I was unresponsive,” said Pixie Jones, 15, of Ferdinand, one of two “code black” victims as part of the exercise. “They checked my pulse, put me on a gurney and put a blanket on me. It was fun. It went really well for me.”

Her mother was one of the participating EMTs and asked her if she wanted to play a victim. “I said, “Sure. There’s nothing better to do on a Saturday morning.”

“I am dead,” said Scottie Calhoun, 18, of Grangeville. “I had a head injury and was unresponsive. They checked my pulse in both wrists and neck and didn’t find anything, so they declared me dead and just left me there in the bus,” she laughed. She heard about the need for exercise victims at her youth group, “and I was like, ‘I want to be covered in blood, that sounds fun!’ This was something good for the community.”

“I learned a lot,” said Betty Beckman of Grangeville, who volunteered to simulate an injured person in the Grangeville Health and Rehab passenger van. “I was amazed at the triage, the amount of people involved. The communities and counties working together on this is totally awesome.” One standout for her was watching Cottonwood firefighters work the “jaws of life” to push metal apart to extract them.

“The teamwork it takes to get everybody in all these areas to take care of them,” she said. “I’m amazed. From a citizen on this side, it gives me a totally different aspect of what they do.”

Several spectators came out to watch the exercise, including Sommer Poxleitner of Cottonwood.

“I learned a lot,” she said, encouraged to come out by her daughters, Trinity and Destiny, who wanted to see it. “It’s interesting to see what they do that you don’t know about.”

Participants included Cottonwood and Grangeville fire and police departments, EMTs from Syringa and St. Mary’s hospitals, Grangeville Health and Rehab, Idaho County Sheriff’s Office and Dispatch, Idaho State Police, Idaho County Emergency Management, U.S. Forest Service, Life Flight, Davis Communications and Public Health – Idaho North Central District.


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