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Crews gather for disaster drill in Ladd

LADD – A mock disaster drill, involving several emergency crews from Bureau, Putnam and LaSalle counties, was acted out on Saturday in Ladd. The scenario involved an Amtrak train that had hit and overturned a school bus at a train crossing, causing several fatalities and injuries.

Perry Memorial Hospital Safety Officer Deb Wood explained it was an important drill for area emergency crews to train for, because Bureau County has many train routes passing through it and several train crossings. It was also a scenario, emergency crews had not yet prepared for.

More than 100 participants from local fire and police departments, EMS, Bureau County Sheriff’s Office, search and rescue, Red Cross, coroner’s office and many more came together for the opportunity to learn the recovery steps of this type of disaster, work with fellow emergency departments and crews, and learn about all the types of resources available in case an incident like so ever took place.

Wood said new instances were thrown into the mix of the disaster to allow further training for crews. EMS had the opportunity to transport victims to three different area hospitals – Perry Memorial in Princeton, St. Margaret’s in Spring Valley and Mendota Community Hospital. She explained it was a great opportunity for the crews who had never transported a patient to Mendota to learn how to get a patient to the right destination most efficiently.

“It’s all about education and practice. If we make mistakes, we want to do it when were practicing and don’t want to do them when it’s real,” Wood said.

During the drill, flash bangs were also used to simulate explosions, which kept responders active and attentive to scenarios they might have missed.

Bureau County Mounted Search and Rescue was assigned to “walk the tracks” to look and gather fake limbs. Wood said full mannequins and parts of mannequins were used to simulate body parts.

“We had one mannequin that had lower legs missing and one arm,” Wood said. “He was pretty banged up.”

The Bureau County Red Cross was able to test out a new program that can now be used to help spouses or family members of victims in an intense accident identify their loved one. The Red Cross chapter also received practice in setting up a shelter, which was used to house uninjured victims.

Wood said at the end of the day, she called the drill a success. A huge goal of the drill was getting the opportunity to have crews from both side of the Bureau County working together.

“There are always stumbling blocks, but you just go over and around them, in this case, they did,” she said. “The drills are always successful. There are things we need to get better at, but we will keep training and practicing.”

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