Firefighters participate in MedEvac down drill
The tones activated during the morning of April 24 on the pagers of four area fire companies were both ominous and reassuring at the same time.
While preceded by the announcement, “This is a drill,” the next message stated the training exercise involved a simulated “aircraft crash,” an alert for an emergency first responders dread.
Simulations provide a practiced response, so if a real emergency should occur, there would be a professional and effective rescue effort.
Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company was the lead agency for the training exercise, in cooperation with the Lehigh Valley Health Network.
LVHN arranged for a MedEvac helicopter to be staged in a remote parking area at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township, then surprised the network’s own emergency response personnel with an unfolding scenario.
Eastern Salisbury, Lower Macungie and South Whitehall Township’s Woodlawn fire station also provided personnel and equipment for the emergency response training.
Each of those companies would be dispatched for the real thing.
A Woodlawn tanker hooked into a Western Salisbury pumper to provide an immediate water supply while firefighters practiced fire-suppressant procedures, discharging foam streams into a nearby detention pond rather than onto the high-value helicopter staged there.
Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Department Chief Joshua Wells critiqued the four-company response, and led a lessons-learned debriefing with firefighter participation.
MedEvac personnel provided hands-on training to the firefighters in emergency shut down systems that would come into play, if the helicopter pilot were disabled.
An overview of the medical chopper’s main systems provided a familiarization tour for the firefighters.
Both Wells and hospital emergency responders, as well as Salisbury Police Department command officers on scene, proclaimed the training exercise a valuable and worthwhile experience.