First Responders Participate in Mass Casualty, School Bus Crash Exercise in Petoskey

It’s a terrifying scenario, a school bus crashes on its side and students are trapped inside, but it’s a situation first-responders are preparing for.

The Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet County Office of Emergency Management along with local fire fighters, EMS and law enforcement, organized the mass casualty training.

“This is one of those low frequency, high-hazard situations because we don’t get many bus accidents,” Resort Bear Creek Fire Chief Al Welshiemer, said.

Thankfully it’s not common, but Chief Welsheimer says they are preparing for what could happen.

“A school is the safest bus on the roadway but there has been a couple in the last month or so, at least two school bus accidents that I know of,” Chief Welsheimer, explained.

With the bus on its side firefighters worked to get more than 30 students out.

They broke down the back doors and even sawed through the roof.

“They are doing cutting, extricating, it’s really hard, it’s not a lot of hand holding, there’s some in there while they do it, but they got a really big focus; make sure the kids that need to get out first are removed in a safe manner,” CCEOEM Director Megan Anderson, explained.

The students are just acting, but having real kids there make the drills more realistic.

As students got hauled off in stretchers EMS began triage.

Anderson says accountability is one of the keys in these dire situations.

“Accountability with injuries at the scene of a mass casualty can we track from the scene and make sure they get logged in at the different hospitals that they’ll end up on, so we know where everyone went, where they started and ended up,” Anderson, added.

The drill lasted less than an hour, and gave first responders food for thought moving forward.

“We found little things that we needed to change but for the most part it went flawless,” Chief Welsheimer said.