Rangers react to 'no-notice' training drill

  • The Rangers of Camp Frank D. Merrill held a mass casualty training exercise on Cavender Creek Road early Tuesday, Oct. 8. The simulation involved an overturned bus, as Rangers rescued volunteers from UNG’s Corps of Cadets playing the role of injured passengers from the wreckage.
    The Rangers of Camp Frank D. Merrill held a mass casualty training exercise on Cavender Creek Road early Tuesday, Oct. 8. The simulation involved an overturned bus, as Rangers rescued volunteers from UNG’s Corps of Cadets playing the role of injured passengers from the wreckage.
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Many people start each day with an early morning exercise. But if your exercise involves an overturned bus and bleeding mannequins, you’re probably a Ranger or a member of Lumpkin County’s Emergency Services.
Last week, the 5th Ranger Training Battalion from Camp Frank D. Merrill joined forces with the Lumpkin County Fire Department, Sheriff's Office, Camp Merrill Fire Department and Georgia State Patrol to practice a mass casualty situation.
“The scenario was they had a bus overturn with folks in it and then the camp had a group that was going to Yonah Mountain to do training and ran up on the scene so it turned into a mass casualty deal,” said David Wimpy, Division Director of Emergency Services and EMA in Lumpkin County. “Once they got on the scene and got things established then they called the local folks of our department, GSP and then the helicopters and we just started doing a mass casualty.”
While the situation was planned, the majority of the Rangers that served as the accident’s first responders were intentionally left out of the planning and had no idea about the exercise until their arrival. This was key to the exercise, allowing the higher ups, like Battalion Safety Specialist Kevin Connell who was in charge of the exercise, to assess the Rangers instincts and reaction to being in an emergency situation.
“A no-notice exercise will give you a real look at your organization,” Connell said. “We identified some things we need to work on, but some things worked really well. One thing I noticed that went really well was that the medics and the Ranger instructors, they gave 110 percent. They were willing to help and do anything they could.”
The exercise was scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. and the emergency personnel working the scene had all of the injured passengers, played by 15 volunteers from UNG’s Corps of Cadets, accounted for and undergoing the appropriate treatment before sunrise. By 7 a.m., all of the passengers had been relocated, including three separate helicopter airlift flights to take the most critical passengers to the hospital.
“They came by, they were pretty quick, they assessed everybody,” Qadur Jones, one of the  volunteers at the event, said. “Everyone who could walk they were like ‘come on, get on out,’ people who couldn’t, they already had them on litters before you knew it. It was a nice experience, you could tell they were trained.”
Another major facet of the exercise was assessing all of the organizations involved on their ability to come together in a potential crisis.
“It’s good to see all the different agencies able to work together and communicate and be on one scene and everything go pretty smooth,” Wimpy said. “We still need to do more of this training because each agency does things a little different, but I think with a little more training it would be really good.”
Once all of the volunteers were recovered and receiving the appropriate treatment, all that was left was to move the overturned bus out of the road. By 8 a.m. the road was clear as though nothing had happened and the road was reopened shortly thereafter.
The vehicle used in the exercise was donated by J.B. Ramey of Ramey Motors Inc. in Cleveland.
“He let us do anything we wanted, which was great,” Connell said.
While all departments involved seemed content with the performance of everyone involved, a fact constantly restated was how important it is to be prepared for a situation like this.
“Something like this could happen at any time and everybody here in the county needs to be able to take care of any situation that comes upon us,” Wimpy said.
“The importance of doing these rehearsals, for one, we do it for real so if it happens for real, we know exactly what to do and things are smoother and we can save lives and prevent injuries, so that’s why we do these things,” Connell said.
But in the end, those in charge were happy with the results and most of all, relieved that it was not a real-life scenario.
“I’m glad it was training, but it was a good training,” Wimpy said.
“It was a successful exercise,” Connell said. “They basically recovered all of the injured personnel, got them evacuated and got them to higher medical treatment. And one of my objectives was, we didn’t get anybody hurt. A lot of moving parts with flipping vehicles and bringing aircraft in so we didn’t get anybody hurt which was good. So overall, it was a big success.”