Western Nevada Community College provided the stage last Friday for Carson City's largest Citizen's Emergency Response Team exercise to date. In the simulated exercise, two planes collide, rain debris over the campus, and land in another area of town. The Carson City Fire Department respond to where the planes crashed down, and send their CERT team to WNCC to perform search and rescue.
"The WNCC building emergency teams and our CERT team members worked together to evacuate the campus and deal with simulated life-threatening situations that had been staged in three buildings," said Tom Tarulli, Carson City Fire Department's public education instructor and CERT team leader.
Carson City's Fire Chief Stacey Giomi monitored the exercise and provided guidance to the team from the command center that was set up on the lawn at the college. "We had the normal communication problems; it's often difficult to understand a radio transmission with the building fire alarm in the background," said Tarulli, who served as the incident commander and directed the CERT team leaders. " Sometimes you just have to send a runner to communicate."
CERT team leaders were responsible for search and rescue, medical, and logistics. They included Robert Rhea, Bernadine Barbera, Cindy Craig, and Bob Kulik.
"The entire college was aware that we would have a campus-wide drill on Friday, but few knew that we had staged victims and a simulated fire in the buildings," stated Brian Crowe, WNCC environmental health and safety officer, who served as the college's primary interface. "It was a learning experience for everyone including WNCC's building emergency teams, as well as the CERT team."
WNCC's Aspen building coordinator Trevor Eddings came upon a classroom full of smoke making his rounds. "You could not see three feet, then someone called for help from inside the room," he said. "That scared me initially, but we got them out."
Professional injury makeup and complaints of the victims made the emergency situations very realistic.
In the debriefing that followed, CERT member Sharon Taylor expressed amazement at how rapidly the infants and toddlers were evacuated from the Child Development Center, "the child care workers really know what they are doing."
Critique forms were handed out to all the participants at the end of the exercise as well. "That feedback is the key to continual improvement in all emergency-planning efforts," said Tarulli.
Press Release: May 9, 2006
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