Written by Fred Mullen
This past Saturday, the Ozark Lock and Dam was the scene of an emergency exercise to practice local responders’ ability to perform technical rescues. The scenario was a worker (rescue manikin was used) who had slipped and fallen in a ladder well on the lock. He suffered a broken leg, concussion and other injuries.
First on the scene, Fire Department personnel performed a scene size up and medical evaluation of the patient. They called for assistance from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, EMS, and, SAR Team. Working together these entries successfully rescued the patient.
“We treated the event as what is known as a Functional Exercise. This means all the necessary skills are performed, but we take the time for explaining our actions and instructing un-skilled responders along the way so they can be better prepared,” said OEM Coordinator Fred Mullen. He added, “today is part of a multiple event exercise which began with a table-top exercise last year which included a flash flood that impacted the Arkansas River and required a rescue response.”
An after action review (AAR) was held following the event. According to Melissa Francis, OEM Senior Deputy Coordinator, “the purpose of the AAR is to determine what we did well and what we need to work on. We will take the information gathered from it and create a corrective action plan which will possibly include items needed, such as, additional training; improve the pre-plan; revise procedure; additional equipment or supplies needed, etc. Though today went well, we always want to improve and be better prepared for the hazards that face our citizens.”
The exercise was observed by Tim Gehring, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management Area Coordinator. Gehring said, “this was a very successful functional exercise—great cooperation among all the stakeholders.”
Kevin Dunn, Corps of Engineers Lock Master, said, “I am very pleased with the effort and performance of our local responders. This group worked extremely well together to assess the situation, pose solutions, and, follow up with effective actions.”
Over 30 personnel participated from the agencies following: Air Evac 22; Altus Fire Department; Arkansas Department of Emergency Management; Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; Corps of Engineers; Cecil Fire Department; FC EMS; FC OEM; South Ozark Fire Department; and, Watalula Fire Department.
Mullen added, “I want to thank everyone who gave up a Saturday to train and be better prepared for emergency situations. The skills we worked on today are transferable to a variety of faculties throughout our county. Special thanks to Lt. Ben Sisk, Wildlife Officer First Class Billy Williams, and, Air Evac Base Manager Chris White. Air Evac provided lunch for the participants.