A tornado tore into the Collicutt Centre on Tuesday, injuring 50 people and collapsing some of the building.
But that scenario challenged Red Deer Emergency Services and its Alberta Health Services and Red Deer County counterparts in a mock mass casualty incident on the recreation centre’s east end.
“Crews had to come in and assess the stability of the structure and how many patients they have,” said Red Deer EMS assistant Damian LaGrange.
“It overwhelmed our system so we had to change our approach, triaging patients as red, yellow or green. It really tasks our people and puts them into positions where we don’t normally have people in roles,” he said. That included extrication, triage, treatment and transportation officers.
All are supervised by a medical branch officer, who then reports to incident command, which ultimately answers to the City of Red Deer’s Emergency Operations Centre, a downtown hub of department heads and staff.
“There are so many different roles involved, it becomes a real challenge to us to practice.”
While the 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. exercise didn’t disrupt centre activities, patrons found victims distributed around the centre suffering from minor to major injuries designated by wrist information bands. Portrayed by Notre Dame and Hunting Hills High School students, plus volunteers, they were evacuated to tents on the east side soccer pitch for treatment before climbing aboard a city transit bus for evacuation from the scene.
The exercise came days before Emergency Preparedness Week, May 5 to 11, an annual event co-ordinated by Public Safety Canada in co-operation with the provinces and territories.
Get information on how household emergency protection and management online at www.getprepared.gc.ca.