Students, various agencies participate in drill

  • A “patient” is taken by EMS to a helicopter ambulance during a recent disaster drill held at the Barnwell County Airport.

Over 100 people participated in a large-scale disaster drill on Nov. 15 in Barnwell County.

The drill simulated a 6.2-magnitude earthquake centered in Barnwell. The drill “assumed” the county courthouse had collapsed and a mobile command center had to be set up at the Barnwell County Airport. Over the course of the drill there were 51 people deemed as injured and 4 “confirmed” dead.

Members of the National Honor Society from Barnwell and Williston-Elko High Schools acted as “victims” of the earthquake. (Blackville-Hilda Schools had been invited to participate.) Each was given a tag with their medical needs and injuries. The students were brought to the grounds of the airport by school bus where firefighters and first responders as well as EMS personnel triaged their “patients” onto green, yellow and red tarps. The tarps represented minor, severe and critical injuries.

The “injured” were moved to a mobile medical hospital where physicians with HealthWise Family Practice and S.C. State Guard “assessed” injuries and prescribed treatment.

A LifeNet air ambulance helicopter was flown in to take a “critically injured” Laurel Baye employee on a short flight. During the midst of the drill a local aviator flew his single-engine airplane into the airport and was “recruited” to fly out a patient.

The drill lasted about three hours and was being evaluated by S.C. Emergency Management staff.

The students were treated to hot dogs and hamburgers and returned to their schools. Barnwell County Emergency Management Director Roger Riley thanked them for participating and explained how important their efforts were in helping emergency responders.

Participating in the drill besides the students were emergency management staff, Barnwell County Airport staff, Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office, Barnwell County Coroner, Barnwell Police Department, firefighters from several departments, Barnwell Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), MedShore Ambulance Service, LifeNet, HealthWise Family Practice, Generations Unlimited, S.C. Dept. of Health and Environmental Control, South Carolina State Guard, American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and The People-Sentinel.

Riley said the drill went well from his standpoint but would wait for evaluations to be completed before knowing where any issues were discovered.

“The point of a drill is to expose any issues that need to be corrected before the real thing happens,” said Riley. “It is a learning and growing process for everyone.”

“I want to thank everyone who participated,” said Riley. “Their help was and is invaluable.”