HOT SPRINGS-Saturday, the quiet morning air was broken by the shrill of a fire alarm at Fall River Health Services (FRHS). Soon, dozens of first responders were on scene and in action.
The event was part of an emergency drill performed annually by local agencies to test their preparedness and identify inefficiencies when responding to a large scale disaster.
Fire engines navigated to the back of FRHS to address the day's mock scenario; an explosion in the hospital.
The event happens annually in Fall River County and rotates between Pine Hills, the State Veteran Home and Fall River Health Service to comply with Fall River Emergency Management's State and Local Agreement and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulations.
The drill was as realistic as possible with victims located in and outside of the building with varying degrees of injuries. Victims included volunteers and manikins.
Volunteer victims had a variety of ailments and makeup to match, depicting burns, cuts and lacerations.
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First responders managed the evacuation of victims, sending the injured away from the scene with ambulances and buses.
Frank Maynard of Fall River County Emergency Management helped evaluate the drill. He said generally he and leaders in other agencies have a more hands on role in leading operations of the exercise, but this year they wanted younger personnel to take a leadership roll, "training and experience in exercises provides other responder personnel the opportunity to take on additional responsibility and gain self confidence in their ability to manage an incident."
Maynard said he felt the drill went well overall, "As always, there are a few items that need to be addressed and corrected, but overall, the exercise met the established objectives and everyone performed their function very well. The items identified will now be addressed through planning, organizational updates to their emergency response plans and internal education. We will be have a formal After Action Review (AAR) scheduled to collectively identify and discuss what went well, what needs some improvement and what can we do better next time."
Participating agencies included: Hot Springs Fire Department, Hot Springs Ambulance, Hot Springs Police, SD State Veterans Home, Pine Hills, Fall River Health Services, Black Hills Life Flight, Fall River Emergency Management and State Home Care Services.
Other agencies that would be contacted if needed in a real emergency include: Custer Ambulance, Edgemont Ambulance, Oelrichs Ambulance, Minnekahta Fire, Edgemont Fire, Oelrichs Fire, VA Black Hills Health Care Fire, Fall River County Sheriff’s Office, Pine Ridge Ambulance, Red Cross and National Weather Service.