Agencies respond quickly to mass casualty ‘accident’Just after 6 p.m. Thursday night, the Red Wing and Goodhue fire departments responded to a scene near the Hay Creek Recreation Area where an accident left six local teenagers severely injured.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Just after 6 p.m. Thursday night, the Red Wing and Goodhue fire departments responded to a scene near the Hay Creek Recreation Area where an accident left six local teenagers severely injured.
Two of the teens were horseback riding along the Goodhue Pioneer Trail when an ATV came speeding up and spooked their horses, ejecting the riders, Red Wing Fire Chief Tom Schneider reported. The ATV spun out of control to avoid an encounter and flipped, ejecting its four passengers as well.
As a result, one teen suffered an open femur fracture, another was paralyzed from the shoulders down, a third was left unconscious, one took a sharp blow to the head, one walked away with injuries to his ribcage and the last sustained some minor cuts and bruises.
The catch? The injuries were fake, the teenagers were volunteers and the accident was entirely staged.
“The drill … was designed specifically to test the abilities of local responders, local resources and their ability to respond to a mass casualty incident in a remote setting,” Schneider explained.
Almost a dozen agencies — Red Wing Fire Department and Ambulance, Goodhue Fire Department, Goodhue County Sheriff’s Office, Minnesota State Patrol, Red Wing Police Department, Mayo One, North Aircare, Life Link III, Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing and Mayo Clinic Trauma Outreach Team — worked together for two hours to get the “injured victims” out of the wooded area and to various hospitals and trauma centers. It was all arranged as an opportunity for the emergency services to practice coordination, effective communication and organizational skills.
Staging the accident more than a mile into the woods challenged the responders to find alternative ways to get to the victims, aside from simply driving an ambulance up to the scene.
“In real life, that’s how it happens,” said Glenn Lyden, director of public affairs for Mayo Clinic.
Narrow trails meant ATVs would be necessary, and a state patrol helicopter was also used to drop medics down from above.
All of the commotion ending up drawing some attention from Hay Creek residents who thought a serious accident was occurring just minutes from their homes. But as much as the drill was a shock to them, it was a bit of a surprise to the medical responders as well.
The Goodhue Fire Department was told nothing other than that a training exercise was scheduled for some time during the week. The Red Wing Fire Department was also kept in the dark for the most part, but had a little bit more information to work with.
“Our guys knew there was a drill and they knew the date and time,” Schneider said. “They didn’t know the specifics.”
Even after discovering the scene they had arrived on was the one arranged for the training exercise, responders continued to treat the scenario as real, Schneider said.
“Everybody shined. It was an overwhelming success.”