Worst Case Scenario Training Prepares SC

Training exercise planned before Boston attack, relevance now elevated

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By Monique Williams

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO/SC FORESTRY COMMISSION) -- More than 150 personnel from military, state, and local agencies and 14 regional hospitals participated in a drill designed to challenge and enhance their medical disaster response.

The attack in Boston served as a poignant reminder to South Carolina responders for the need to be prepared for a sudden influx of casualties. Had the number of people injured in Boston been higher, this exercise may very well have become an activation. The US Department of Defense's Federal Coordination Center (FCC) and the South Carolina Forestry Commission's Incident Management Team are steering the exercise which simulates the reception, transportation, and tracking of wounded persons from an explosion in Charlotte.

This is a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) exercise.

In real life, the NDMS is activated if a disaster is so large in scope as to overwhelm a given geographic area's ability to respond with sufficient medical aid. FCCs in South Carolina, as in other states, coordinate the local EMTs, government agencies, hospitals and support providers (Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.) in order that they may respond cohesively when disaster strikes anywhere in the US or abroad. This year's drill occurs at Columbia Metropolitan Airport Wednesday. The scenario begins with an imagined explosion at a sold-out rock concert at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Simulated casualties will arrive at the SC Aeronautics Commission hangar in two medical transport military aircraft. While the casualties are "pretend," responding personnel, inbound flights, medical transport logistics, performance expectations, and security procedures are not.

During NDMS exercises, all attempts are made to keep the situation authentic; thus, inbound flights airlifting casualties Wednesday arrived at unspecified times and carried an unknown number of wounded. The capacity (or "through put") is 80 injured. SCFC's Incident Management Team works regularly with various organizations helping them to apply the principles of the Incident Command System. ICS is now widely adopted as the best organizational structure for both emergency situations and planned events.

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