Are you ready for Winter? It’s hard to think about “SNOW” right now, with the wonderful warm weather we have. However, it is extremely important for your vehicle to have good tires. Check the air pressure, and make sure that they are ready for what is yet to come. Do not wait until the snow is here to get your vehicle ready.
Do you have a Winter Car Kit? Do you at least have necessary supplies to keep you safe & warm in an emergency? We never PLAN on being in these situations, but with the climate changes, these items are necessary for safety and survival.
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FARMINGTON — More than 200 first responders, volunteers, hospital and university staff and emergency management overseers participated in a mass casualty exercise near High Street Friday morning.
The drill, the first of its kind on a college campus in Maine, consisted of an active shooter at the University of Maine at Farmington, with multiple casualties and hostages. Further complicating the scenario was the deployment of a explosive device in a vehicle at the Olson Student Center parking lot, a tactic that Maine Emergency Management Agency trainers overseeing the drill said had been used by shooters in the past.
The exercise began as dispatchers received a report of an active shooter in Preble Hall, with the initial law enforcement officers responding immediately. Soon after arriving, a smoke bomb set off by MEMA detonated in a red SUV just off of High Street. Victims of the blast quickly arrived and arrayed themselves around the smoking SUV.
Ambulances and fire engines arrived, as an Emergency Operations Center was set up at the Farmington Fire Station. Wilton Police Chief Heidi Wilcox was appointed incident commander; the presumption is that UMF Public Safety Chief Brock Caton and Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck would be among the first responders to an incident.
In Preble Hall, the shooter, played by acting Jay Police Chief Richard Caton IV, is cornered on the second floor and shot with a training gun by his brother, Chief Brock Caton. Ambulances arrive at the end of South Street, awaiting word that it’s safe to begin evacuating victims. Meanwhile, Farmington Fire Rescue on High Street use a loudspeaker to address victims scattered around the red SUV.
“If you are a victim, and you can walk,” the firefighter says, “walk to us.”
Franklin Memorial Hospital receives word about the incident and puts its emergency plans into effect, including security for the anticipated flood of injured. At the Mt. Blue Campus, emergency management set up a Family Assistance Center, where students will be bused from UMF to make contact with their families.
There are curve balls, of course. A car accident on the Wilton Road diverts resources. A woman at the Family Assistance Center goes into cardiac arrest as another victim has a nervous breakdown and needs to be restrained.
Word arrives that Preble Hall has been declared “warm;” it’s a crime scene, but safe for EMTs to enter. Ambulances arrive and line up down high street, backboards laid in rows. The first EMTs in the building are triaging, marking victims with tags that distinguish their status: yellow is injured, red is critical and black is dead. Police officers accompany each EMT and ambulance, carrying distinctive blue training guns.
“It takes time to get all of your resources set up,” Franklin County Emergency Management Agency Director Tim Hardy said, watching the EMTs escort victims from Preble Hall, “but things seem to be going well.”
Communications are challenging, as always. Personal radios don’t always carry to dispatch or incident command, agencies used to operating on a single frequency must monitor multiple networks and cell phone availability is dubious, given the amount of traffic that accompanies a shooting incident.
“No matter how much money we put into radios,” Farmington Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell said during the debriefing that followed the exercise, “we’re never going to totally solve the communication problem.”
Communication was one of the hardest things to do well, MEMA exercise director Scott Parker said, but he thought Franklin County’s responders had done well. There are small issues, like cell phones not functioning throughout portions of Mt. Blue Campus, and bigger ones, like FMH not being notified promptly enough to anticipate injuries. The agencies involved with the drill will take what worked and what didn’t and use it as part of their ongoing training.
“This is all about making partnerships,” Hardy said. “This is something new, and for these folks to assist us and open the campus up for these exercises, I really want to applaud UMF.”
A number of other colleges sent observers to watch the exercise, which lasted approximately two hours.
The drill represented 18 months of planning, going back to a tabletop exercise conducted at UMF on April 4, 2013. Personnel spent a day discussing simulated scenarios and possible responses. This was taken to the next level on Aug. 8, 2013, when a functional exercise was conducted. In that case, communication protocols were tested through having the different responding agencies coordinate a response out of separate rooms.
Article courtesy of our local online newspaper: www.dailybulldog.com
The University of Maine at Farmington, in partnership with area emergency responders and associate facilities, is sponsoring a Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program training event on Friday, Aug. 8, on the UMF campus. This training exercise will provide a simulated, low-risk emergency scenario to help prepare first responders, University personnel and the community to work together in case of a real-life emergency.
This exercise is the first, full-scale, HSEEP training event of its kind in Maine. It is the culmination of 18 months of pre-planning during which the University sponsored two smaller training events, including a table-top and functional exercise.
Prior to the event, on Thursday, Aug. 7, law enforcement, emergency medical services and fire protection services vehicles and resources will be staged near the campus in preparation for the next day’s exercise.
On Aug. 8, the day of the event, members of the public can expect to see numerous emergency vehicles and hear noises similar to fireworks for a brief time. Volunteers will serve as actors with simulated injuries. They will be transported to the area hospital participating in the exercise.
In addition, the public may encounter road closures around the campus as local law enforcement personnel control scene access to ensure the safety of participants and the public.
This exercise is being conducted by UMF with the assistance of the Maine Emergency Management Agency, Franklin County Emergency Management Agency and other emergency response personnel.
Additional information on the exercise and road closures will be available closer to the event. For more information, please call the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency at 207-778-5892.