Mock bleacher collapse tests readiness of Perry First Responders

Ali Bane, 10, was trapped under a portion of the fallen bleachers during Saturday's mock exercise in disaster preparedness and response at Dewey Field.

Imagine the Perry High School football team dominating an opponent, such as Jefferson, between the stripes of Dewey Field on a cool Friday night in fall before hundreds of loyal Bluejay fans. It is pleasant to imagine such a thing.

Now imagine, if you can bear to, a complete collapse of the bleachers and the injuries and even deaths that could ensue. It is painful to imagine such a thing, but the Perry First Responders and Perry Volunteer Fire Department staged just such a catastrophe Saturday morning as part of their regular training in disaster preparedness.

The day began with a training session in the firehouse of the Perry Volunteer Fire Department. Emergency responders reviewed the basic functions of a specialized technical advanced rescue team (START), including techniques of basic life support (BLS), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), international trauma life support (ITLS) and others. It is an acronym-heavy business.

The emergency response team (ERT) then took its lessons to the field, Dewey Field, where the imaginary bleacher collapse left about a dozen victims in various states of imaginary distress, including broken limbs, punctured or severed body parts, head traumas and many other maladies.

The START team performed triage, rapidly assessing the condition of victims and treating the neediest first. Many were borne away on stretchers. Perry Volunteer Fire Department member Tom Wolf was on hand to capture the exercise in pictures and video.

We are used to seeing images of carnage, but the horrors always happen elsewhere. Mass shootings, truck bombings, misdirected aerial bombardments — these are matters for live streaming, not for witnessing in person. Let us pray all such terrors end. If they cannot end, then let us pray they always happen elsewhere.

While praying, however, we should also prudently prepare for their happening here. Keeping our volunteer first responders and our paid EMTs ready for all possibilities is good insurance against the day of disaster.


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