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Monday, April 22, 2024
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Getting Ready For Disaster

EMS Supervisor Eva Donovan reviews the triage tag of Monica Auradou, a manager at Cardow Jewelers who volunteered to pose as a disaster victim in Friday’s disaster drill at CEKA. Volunteers and first responders from across St. Thomas participated Friday morning in a mock disaster drill at Cyril E. King Airport, testing the strengths and weaknesses of disaster planning.

The drill was conducted in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration requirements and tests communication, resources and response time between airport personnel and the island’s emergency agencies in the event of a real disaster, according to a release from the Port Authority.

The mock disaster scenario was of a 757 aircraft carrying 214 passengers crashing on takeoff, resulting in 37 deaths, 20 complicated injuries with 120 people able to walk away, according to Virgin Islands Port Authority Fire Department Chief Derek Smith. The scenario also included a fire and rescues.

Some of the organizations that participated in the exercise included the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency, the VIPA Fire Department, Port Authority Police, V.I. Police Department, St. Thomas Fire Department, St. Thomas Rescue, Emergency Medical Services, the Red Cross, as well as one of the airlines and the Transportation Safety Administration.

The drill also provided analysis of coordination of effort.

“It is a collaborative effort,” Smith said. “We aren’t worrying about who is in charge as long as those who need help have assistance rendered.”

Even before the exercise was complete, it was bearing fruit.

“We have identified areas that we need to work on,” Avon Chesterfield EMS Trainer said.

Tagging the triage victims was one area that would be reviewed to ensure consistency with the EMS system, Chesterfield said.

VITEMA training coordinator said that the communication system still had a few bugs to work out.

“We’ve identified what the shortcomings are,” Chesterfield said. “But like everything you have little kinks to work out.”

Volunteer victims included individuals from local businesses, recent Police Academy graduates and Charlotte Amalie High School JROTC members.

The volunteers came complete with terrible-looking fake wounds conjured up by John Jowers, who is retired from the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts.

Jowers made some arts fans out of his “victims,” including CAHS ninth graders Esmeralda Gimenez and Shanice Laurent, who showed off Jower’s work.

“When I first came in it looked so nasty,” Laurent said. “But then I asked for more blood spray.”

But the purpose of the exercise wasn’t lost on the young participants.

“They learned how to cope with the people and handle them carefully,” Laurent said of the medical personnel who tended her. “They bandaged me and they held my hand carefully. They also learned how quickly they should move.”

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