ESDA, first responders hold annual drill

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Emergency responders must be prepared for anything that might happen and one of the best ways to do that is by practicing different scenarios.

Every year the Edgar County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency coordinates an emergency drill so the various response agencies can work together to find out what works and make modifications before encountering life situations. Past drills have practiced hazardous materials response and natural disasters.

The ESDA drill Thursday, May 9, was for search and rescue.

A scenario created by Jill Taylor, ESDA coordinator, had four elderly people wandering away from a nursing home and eventually spotted walking along the railroad tracks behind the Hartley-Taylor Fire Training Center on Cherry Point Road. The ground behind the training center is wooded with thick undergrowth reducing visibility and a couple of ponds and a marshy area.

Searchers had to comb the trails looking for four elderly people, two with Alzheimer’s. In the scenario, two were found alive and ambulatory. One was unresponsive and required CPR. One was dead at the scene.

Taylor threw in a couple of extra twists for the searchers. A suspected meth lab was discovered, which required one person to drop from the search party in order to stand guard over that location. The other twist was one of the first responders experienced an allergic reaction to a bee sting and had to be carried from the woods.

The Paris Fire Department, the Paris Police Department, the Edgar County Sheriff’s Department and Horizon Health Ambulance participated in the exercise. The police department’s contingent included K-9 officer Scott Dunn and his partner Diezal.

Having the dog on site proved beneficial in tracking the two high school volunteers portraying the senior citizens who were found alive. Diezal also charged off trail into a weedy area where one of the fire department’s training mannequins was deposited as the expired person. The fourth victim was found in an area the dog did not search.

Taylor said the drill went well and the main concern was some communication issues that arose during the practice.