Waldo County hosts mass casualty exercise training
Thorndike — Local law enforcement and emergency personnel tested their response readiness to a mass casualty scenario as part of a training exercise conducted at the Mount View Complex in Thorndike.
The exercise began at 9 a.m. Saturday, July 19, with Waldo County Emergency Management Agency Director Dale Rowley, acting in the role of the Mount View High School principal, making a 911 call reporting a shooting happening at the Mount View Complex.
Following Rowley's call, law enforcement with the Waldo County Sheriff's Office responded to the complex and found Deputy Nick Oettinger, suffering from a neck wound sitting in the atrium of the high school.
Oettinger directed officers down the nearby hallways where he last saw the shooters.
As part of the exercise, Rowley said law enforcement and fire and ambulance personnel were practicing their response to a mass casualty scenario. In Saturday's scenario, two shooters shot and injured 13 individuals, Rowley said.
One of the goals of the exercise was not only to test emergency responders ability to coordinate on the scene of a mass casualty shooting, but also to get fire and ambulance crews on scene as quickly as possible to treat the victims.
Rowley said one of the issues that has come to light during real world mass casualty incidents is the fact that fire and ambulance crews would stay away from the scene, sometimes for hours, and as a result victims would die from their injuries.
During Saturday's exercise, Rowley said law enforcement worked to make the complex as safe as possible while area fire departments and ambulance began taking the victims to area hospitals.
Rowley said the exercise organizers were pleased with the results of the training, noting all of the victims of the mock shooting were removed from the building and taken to hospitals within 55 minutes from time the shooting began.
Fire departments from Freedom, Montville, Searsmont and Thorndike participated in the training, as well as ambulance crews from Belmont, Brooks, Liberty, Northport, Searsport, Unity and Winterport.
Deputies with the Waldo County Sheriff's Office, Maine State Police and the Waldo County Incident Management Assistance Team also participated.
Rowley said the exercise had been planned for about nine months with smaller scale tabletop exercises and trainings conducted prior to Saturday's operation.
In the future, Rowley said emergency responders would like to conduct similar trainings in the county at least once a year.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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