Local first responders run disaster drill at Natchez High School

Published 12:22 am Thursday, November 15, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Alcorn State University nursing student Ariana Belasalle lies on the ground with an artificial stomach wound visible to those providing treatmetn as an emergency crew with American Medical Response prepares to lift her onto a stretcher to be transported to Natchez Regional Medical Center Wednesday morning. Belasalle was a victim participating in a community-wide disaster drill of a stadium collapse at Natchez High School.

NATCHEZ — Disaster struck at the Natchez High School football stadium Wednesday morning, but fortunately it was only a test.

Local first responders were dispatched to NHS for a simulated stadium collapse as part of a community-wide disaster drill.

The Natchez Fire Department arrived on the scene, followed by the Natchez Police Department, ambulance crews and the Air Evac Lifeteam.

Email newsletter signup

Victims, who were played by Natchez High and local college students, were positioned under the press box and assigned various injuries from minor to major trauma.

Click here for more pictures from the disaster drill.

The NFD’s ropes team got some practice in during the drill by saving two rescue dummies that were simulating two victims who became stuck in the stadium scaffolding when it collapsed.

The team repelled down the scaffolding to save the dummies and bring them to the ground. Once on the ground, the dummies were replaced by volunteers who simulated injuries from the collapse.

The drill had 23 victims that were transported by either ambulance, Air Evac or Natchez Transit System for medical care.

NTS is not typically dispatched during emergencies, but Natchez Capt. Tom McGehee said the transit system is a part of the disaster plan because they provide extra transportation if needed.

Ambulance crews placed green, yellow, red and black cards on victims based on the degree of injuries. McGehee said the cards allow crews to quickly look at victims and know who needs to be sent to the hospital first.

The drill was designed to test the first responders’ emergency plans, as well as the emergency response plan of Natchez Regional Medical Center.

NRMC is a member of the Adams County Emergency Operations Committee and is required to test its emergency plan annually, Director of Resource Management and Emergency Operations Alan Massengale said.

Massengale and Amy Campbell, compliance officer and director of clinical operations who also headed up NRMC’s incident command center during the drill, said the hospital’s emergency drill was executed with only minor holdups.

Campbell said the hospital wants to work on its patient flow from triage to first aid and other minor things.

“Overall it was a very successful drill on our part,” she said.

McGehee said the first responders who participated in the drill would meet in two weeks to discuss the drill and provide feedback for any changes that need to be made to the disaster plan.