GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Emergency Management and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) hosted a two-day training exercise simulating real world catastrophes.
Dozens of first responders from Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson counties, along with state agencies, were at Bob Jones University training for mass emergency events. They said it’s a way to be prepared when the calls for help arrive.
Thursday was the second and final day of training.
“We are simulating a building collapse. A bomb has gone off. The building is going to collapse and we have to rescue the people that are inside,” said Jessica Stumpf, director of Greenville County Emergency Management.
“This is a very large-scale incident that we are looking at today that is going to require a lot of resources from different counties.”
The scenario was the aftermath of a simulated explosion. There was no access to stairs and multiple people were trapped. The only way to rescue the victims was by going up onto the roof and through the elevator shaft.
“They are actually lowering them right down the elevator shaft,” said Steve Hunt, Greenville County Emergency Management.
Steve Hunt, the special operations coordinator for Greenville County Emergency Management, said once the crews were inside, they had to make sure the partially collapsed structure was stabilized.
“Training for the unknown is hard. This scenario, we tried to set it up as life-like as possible,” said Hunt.
He told 7NEWS that crews must think fast because every second counts when they work to rescue and recover those trapped inside.
At the same time, law enforcement officers were working to preserve the crime scene and determine a cause for the explosion.
Then EMS took over.
“The rescue personnel will collect the patients and bring them to us and we begin care from there,” said Jeff Jones, South Carolina Piedmont Regional Medical Assistance Team.
During the training, crews fine-tuned their skills to treat patients with explosion-related injuries such as broken limbs, lacerations, even amputations.
“It’s not just one patient that we are used to focusing on. We have to find a way to focus on multiple patients at the same time,” said Keri Eleazier, Paramedic, Spartanburg EMS.
They said it takes teamwork.
“In this type of scenario, working with other teams and spending time with those folks, it helps us build relationships,” said Jones.
Greenville County Emergency Management said those in attendance all shared a common goal.
“We all need to be able to work together, communicate well together in order to accomplish the mission, which is to save lives,” said Stumpf.
“Nobody enjoys the thought of a mass casualty event, but if we don’t train we are not going to be prepared,” said Jones.
The emergency response is something training organizers said can happen anywhere, at any time. Thursday’s weather forecast, temperatures in the mid-60s and rain, added another factor to their emergency response.
“If the building collapsed today, we would still have to be out here doing this anyway. So, this is a rain or shine event. We train when it’s raining. We train when it’s really hot out. It doesn’t matter. We are going to be here doing it,” said Stumpf.
Training organizers said you can never be too prepared. They plan to host more events like this in the future.
SLED, South Carolina Task Force 6, and other agencies that participated in the training are funded through grants. During the two-day training, crews were evaluated in order to maintain funding for things like training and equipment.