The school year is winding down across the metro area, but Paramedics, Firefighters and Wentzville School District [WSD] officials are heading back to class for a lesson they hope to never put into practice. On selected dates throughout the month of May, first responders from emergency response agencies throughout St. Charles County will gather to train for mass casualty incidents [MCI]. This year’s scenario: a serious motor vehicle accident involving a school bus filled with students.
First responders participating in the training must put not only their skills to the test, but their senses as well – each session will include live volunteers both inside and outside the bus, heightening the realism of the scenario.
“In addition to being complex both clinically and logistically, scenarios such as these are filled with dozens of potential variables that can make the task at hand all the more challenging for first responders,” said Rick Lane, Training Officer for St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] and coordinator of the MCI exercise, “We’re going to try to make that environment as realistic as possible – crying children, parents attempting to access the scene – these are things that crews will undoubtedly experience in a situation like this.”
In addition to serving as a collaborative learning opportunity for first responders and staff from St. Charles County Department of Emergency Communications, the series of events, which begin on May 8, will also give the school district’s accident response team a chance to practice procedures in a more realistic environment.
“The Wentzville School District has partnered with our ambulance and fire districts on a number of important initiatives over the years, but this collaborative training takes the partnership to a new level,” said Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain, “We’re proud to be taking part in this active learning environment that will help our first responders hone their skills.”
Fatal crashes involving school buses – such as the one that claimed the lives of six students in Chattanooga, TN last November – are uncommon. Lower-acuity collisions, however, occur much more frequently, often involving multiple patients.
According to the American School Bus Council, more than 480,000 school buses travel in excess of 10 billion miles over the course of an average year in the United States, and just over half of the nation’s 50 million students get to school via bus.
Check out local media coverage of the training by clicking on the links below: