South County firefighters trained together in a simulated mass casualty incident with multiple vehicle accidents last week to hone their life-saving skills.
On Monday, Tuesday and Friday crews from different shifts met for their orientation at the new transit station on Moffat Boulevard before driving their engines and ambulance to the unused East Quintal Road located just south of the Highway 120 Bypass and east of South Main Street. The departments involved included the City of Manteca, Ripon Consolidated, Lathrop Manteca, Tracy, and SHARP Defense Depot.
There were more than 10 fire engine companies that were dispatched to multiple collision scenes along that stretch of road that required team leaders to set up triage locations to evaluate the injured. A number of motorists had to be extracted from their vehicles with the Jaws of Life.
The injured were taken out of their vehicles on back boards and with neck collars in place with a definite precision by the first responders during the annual training exercise.
A mobile home had crashed and rolled over onto a pickup truck with trapped occupants that had to be cut out of the motor home with portable metal skill saws.
The REACH air ambulance flew out of Stockton Airport each of the three days to give the firefighters practice loading accident victims into the patient bay for transport to hospitals from the Central Valley and Sacramento to the Bay Area for specialized treatment.
Volunteer crash victims in the drill included Sue Schmitz who proved to be quite an actress. She was trapped in a vehicle and had to be extricated with the Jaws of Life. The screams and moans that came with every move firefighters made depicted a real life scenario.
Penny Arounsack had also been seriously injured in the drill and was eventually evacuated by the helicopter crew and got a short ride on a back board in the air ambulance.
Manteca Battalion Chief Dave Marques arrived to check on the damaged vehicles they were using in the training Friday morning to find vandals had been at work. One of the cars had been moved to the center of the road and all of its wheels removed. He couldn’t explain why vandals had not taken them.