Grand County EMS conducts emergency exercise in Tabernash
September 30, 2014
If you drove through Tabernash on Saturday, Sept. 27, you might have noticed what looked like a major emergency taking place on the Union Pacific Railroad spur line that runs through town.
Local first responders, medical personnel and the Union Pacific all got together Saturday to conduct an emergency exercise testing Grand County's readiness for a mass causality incident as well as a major chemical spill.
The exercise scenario was a train versus multi-passenger van wreck at the train crossing. In the scenario the train was carrying hazardous materials that spilled in the accident.
The exercise tested several specific capabilities of local first responders including mass causality incident response, hazmat accident response and hospital surge — when hospitals are suddenly inundated with large numbers of patients.
The scenario was conducted onsite in Tabernash and at local medical centers. It was overseen by third party evaluators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Colorado Department of Emergency Management and other entities reviewing the actions and responses at each of the various exercise locations.
Heightening the realism of the exercise were "patient" actors. Most of the scenario's patients were from the Middle Park High School EMT class including nine seniors and two freshman volunteers. One local first responder's wife and three kids also volunteered as causalities for the incident.
"This exercise was a response exercise," said Grand County EMS Deputy Chief Nowell Curran. "Each agency involved in the exercise identified capabilities they wanted tested. Internal capabilities were pre-identified. Each agency is testing those to validate their plans, policies and procedures to make sure they can appropriately respond to these types of incidences."
The exercise was planned and led by the Office of Emergency Management. Local departments participating in the exercise included: local EMS, Middle Park Medical Center — Granby, Middle Park Medical Center – Kremmling, Denver Health East Grand, East Grand Fire Dept., Granby Fire Dept., the Grand County Sheriff's Office and the Union Pacific Railroad.
"We consider it a success for all the agencies that came together and participated, and kudos to the people who came out to play," Curran said.