Mock Disaster Tests Emergency Response Teams

The smell of smoke and the sound of sirens filled Hiller Park early Tuesday. A simulated plane crash tested the readiness of emergency responders from Keesler and the City of Biloxi.

The mock disaster helps them prepare for handling the real thing.

A smoking bus represented the downed C-130. The military plane just crashed into Hiller Park.

"And what we wanted to test, we wanted to test our quick reliability with the city on how we take care of a potential disaster like this," explained Col. Lance Young.

"Let's go!", yelled a Keesler fireman as he jumped off the truck and headed for the downed wreckage.

Emergency teams from Keesler and Biloxi quickly converge on the crash scene. Some firefighters searched the plane wreckage, while others attended to the injured.

"I want you to get some help and start moving them over to the red tarp," directed an on scene commander.

"I count four right now we're attending to," said a firefighter, as he positioned a stretcher to help a wounded man.

"If we don't practice this and we do have an actual emergency, then our response time might be slower and we might lose a life. And that's what we want to try and prevent," said Col. Young.

"So far we've got four reds, one yellow, we've got oxygen on the male shortness of breath over here," said a traige nurse, as she directed others.

A triage team evaluated the various victims. Stretchers carried the seriously injured, while the walking wounded were led to the waiting ambulances

Much of the learning in this disaster drill will come later on, when those involved in the exercise will review their response to determine what went right and what needs improvement.

Away from the immediate crash site, a disaster response team was already in action. Environmental concerns were among the many other issues needing attention.

"I called our clean up team in, to bring their materials. There was no report of a quantity," said the environmental expert on the scene.

Evaluators in blue hats kept watch throughout the drill. They'll help grade whether emergency responders are ready to handle the real thing.

Keesler organized the disaster drill with the City of Biloxi. Evaluators not only took written notes, they also videotaped the exercise. Those involved will review the video during their critique session.