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Feb. 1, 2005

Volney Exercise Helps Participants Understand Multiple Casualty Incidents

Emergency response agencies participating in a Saturday morning drill at Volney Elementary School in Fulton have a better understanding of how they "fit into" the Oswego County Multiple-Casualty Incident (MCI) Plan.

The Fulton City School District, Volney Volunteer Fire Corporation, and Menter's Oswego County Ambulance Service were the lead players in the Jan. 22 exercise sponsored by the Oswego County Local Emergency Planning Committee. The exercise, the eighth organized by the LEPC's Training and Exercise Committee, was a test of the county's recently revised MCI plan.

"This was an excellent opportunity for agencies to work together before a real incident occurs," said Exercise Committee Chair John Kaminski of Emergency Planning at Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station, a division of Constellation Energy. "Everyone walked away with a better idea of how they fit into the system."

The exercise also gave emergency medical services an opportunity to test a new triage system developed by New York State.

"Drills and exercises are very important to all of us in the field," said LEPC Chair Robert Sponable of the Fulton Fire Department. "The LEPC sponsors exercises as a method to test plans, train responders, and give people in different agencies a chance to work together when it's not an emergency. We appreciate the support of the agencies who participated, especially the school district."

The MCI plan serves as a framework for local emergency responders to ensure a timely and appropriate response to any incident involving large numbers of injured people. It helps those in charge coordinate manpower, supplies, equipment and facilities to meet the need.

"This was a great opportunity to test our plan with the emergency response agencies," said Bill Lynch, assistant superintendent for instruction of the Fulton City School District. "This is as real as any of us want to get . . . We learned a lot."

The district tested its internal emergency plans and was able to see how their organization fits into the response by outside agencies.

Kaminski said that Volney School Principal Donna Parkhurst was "exemplary" in cooperating with the emergency responders during the exercise. "This was a key learning experience for everyone," he added.

The scenario involved a boiler explosion that knocked walls down onto students in the gymnasium, and rained debris on students in a special education wing. Some victims were trapped, and emergency responders were required to rescue them with the resources available. Bill Price, FCSD manager of buildings, grounds, and security, and Jerry Seguin, FCSD manager of transportation and safety, gave district personnel even more to do, simulating a power outage and communications breakdown.

Victims in the exercise were portrayed by students at G. Ray Bodley High School in the Fulton district as well as from the Oswego Town Explorers Post, Oswego County BOCES Public Safety Program, and New Vision Allied Health Programs at A.L. Lee Memorial and Oswego Hospitals.

Volney Fire Chief Ken Sheldon was incident commander for the exercise, and worked with Parkhurst to determine how many students were injured. Chris Stupp of Oswego County Ambulance Service was assigned as EMS (emergency medical services) Command, and ensured the 40 victims were triaged and treated.

Ambulance companies on hand included Oswego County Ambulance Service, McFee Ambulance Service, SOVAC (Southern Oswego County Ambulance Corps), SAVAC (Student Association Volunteer Ambulance Corps), and Fair Haven Ambulance. Fulton Fire Department assisted Volney. The Oswego Town Fire Department brought the county's MCI trailer. The New York State Police and Oswego County Sheriff's Department organized crowd control.

Participants in the exercise were pre-staged at Volney Fire Department and dispatched to the scene by the Oswego County E-911 Communications Center as they were requested by the incident commander. Oswego County Emergency Communicators/RACES amateur radio operators assisted the exercise staff, and members of New York Guard F Company 1310 stationed at Hancock Field were an additional resource.

Exercise committee members, in addition to Kaminski, include co-chair Al Heath, deputy county fire coordinator for special operations; Robert Sponable of Fulton Fire Department, LEPC Chair; Pat Egan, director of the Oswego County Emergency Management Office; Sgt. Tom Rogers of New York State Police Troop D; Jay Rogers of Emergency Planning at Entergy; Zach Menter of Oswego County Ambulance Service; John Darling, Oswego County Emergency Communicators; Bill Price and Jerry Seguin, Fulton City Schools; and Mike Allen and Bob Loomis, Oswego County E-911 Communications Center. Jim Jones and Chris Rathbun of Oswego County Ambulance Service and Dave Martin assisted as EMS controllers, and Bill Dark, deputy county fire coordinator, brought the county's command trailer and assisted with operations.

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