Mock drillers passed test for everyone’s best

A COLLISION BETWEEN A school bus and a tractor-trailer at the State 23 off-ramp to State 57 in Plymouth Saturday morning resulted in a total of more than 50 injuries and fatalities.

That didn’t really happen, but that was the scenario for an emergency response mock disaster drill conducted Saturday at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds.

We all hope and pray that such a horrific accident will never happen, but we also know that it is always a possibility – indeed, 15 years ago, on a foggy October morning on Interstate 43 near Cedar Grove, something like it did happen.

When such unfortunate events occur, it is good to know that the people designated to respond to them – our family, friends and neighbors – are trained and ready to act quickly and correctly.

Saturday’s exercise was organized by the Plymouth Fire and Police departments. It involved firefighters, police and law enforcement officers, emergency responders, ambulance crews, medical examiners and more, from more than two dozen agencies along with nearly five dozen volunteer “victims.” It was all conducted under the watch of several outside observers who evaluated the performances and actions of the responders.

While there were some minor problems with communication and coordination – not totally unexpected in such a confusing and complex situation – for the greater part the exercise went well and all involved performed excellently.

Coordinating the responses and efforts of so many groups and individuals at such a chaotic scene is a daunting challenge. It should reassure all of us that those responsible for such a situation locally performed so admirably in this test.

Practicing for such a possibility is a worthwhile effort. No one ever wants a major incident or disaster, but it is good to know that those responsible for handling such an event are making sure they are ready to respond quickly, efficiently and effectively.

Putting together Saturday’s drill was nearly as challenging as well.

The various agencies and personnel required had to be recruited and readied, the scene had to be set up, the “victims” readied and coached, and the entire event scheduled and staged.

It was a nearly full-day event, with preparation beginning early in the morning for the actual “incident” around 10 a.m. The various stages of response and action took several more hours, followed by the necessary debriefing and after-action reporting that followed.

For many of those involved, who are volunteer firefighters, first responders, emergency personnel and the like, it meant sacrificing an entire Saturday to get better at their job – which is serving, saving and protecting us, the public.

But it was time well spent, and well worth it.

Everyone involved learned from the exercise – learned that they can respond well when the situation calls for it and learned what it takes to handle a major incident.

All of those involved deserve our thanks and gratitude for their continued willingness to answer the call when an emergency, of whatever kind, happens or disaster strikes.

Thanks to all, and congratulations on a job well done – not just last Saturday, but every day.

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