Mock disaster event at Gore Bay Airport

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Local firefighters help one of the victims in a plane crash, during a disaster simulation exercise held at the Gore Bay-Manitoulin airport on May 30. photos by Tom Sasvari

GORDON — Anyone visiting the Gore Bay-Manitoulin airport last Monday would have seen the remains of a Dash-8 aircraft just off the runway and a tractor-trailer about 50 yards away with wreckage, luggage and scattered wounded. They can’t be faulted for misinterpreting the fake emergency disaster scene for the real thing.

The ‘disaster’ was that the plane had struck a tractor-trailer mower as the plane attempted to land on the runway. First responders and an ambulance were on hand for the exercise, along with several local fire departments as well as paramedics, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel from the Northern School of Medicine in Ontario and Manitoulin Health Center (MHC), airport personnel, employees of Manitoulin Transportation Officers, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and amateur radio operators.

What was perhaps more impressive than the scene itself was how all the agencies involved worked together to care for the “injured” people and deal with the fire and the many other surprises that arose as and as the scenarios unfolded. These included discovering that there was a bomb; find the plane on fire; and a woman desperately searching for her baby amid a report that a six-month-old baby was seen crawling and another report of another woman walking around carrying a baby.

During a debriefing after the event, airport manager Robby Colwell described the event as a great success.

“In a small community, in an emergency, that’s what you’ll get,” said Trent Gervais, CEO of Loomex Group, which provided the demo plane, all wreckage as well as the crash simulator. jet plane. “It’s clear from this exercise that everyone is well prepared to deal with an emergency,” Gervais said. “There were a few lessons but nothing major.”

A paramedic pointed out that while there were communication issues with the fictional emergency coordinator, “if it was a real emergency, we would have communication for triage.”

The baby was a symbol, Mr. Gervais said. “In these situations, it is imperative to find everything at the scene.”

There could be many different scenarios, he said. In this one, the Dash-8 was an aircraft that carried Manitoulin Transport executives. Pilot Wade Cook stressed: “We have not obtained any information on the condition of the passengers or where they will be taken.”

“These are your people. They need to know where their families ended up,” Mr Colwell said. “Is there a mechanism in place for that, like the OPP?”

The OPP “would have had a media spokesperson on hand who would have provided all the information possible,” OPP Officer Mike Patterson replied.

A doctor stressed that information should only be provided to relatives of the victim. “Our concern is that in a small community everyone knows when something is going on and they will be on us for information,” Mr Cook said.

One volunteer, who participated as a victim, said she felt safe as she was reassured by a paramedic who held her hand during the exercise. “As a healthcare provider (in real life), it was nice to see it happen. We don’t realize how difficult and scattered catastrophic events like this can be. It was really amazing to see everyone doing their job so well.

Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board Paramedic Superintendent Travis Dewar was at the command center with Gore Bay Fire Chief Mike Addison, MHC Dr. Maurianne Reade and OPP Constable Mike Patterson of Ontario.

“We were very happy to be invited to participate to test our abilities and, combined with being with the other agencies, it was a great learning environment for our staff for an event like this which we hope will -the, no one will ever have to deal with,” says Dewar.

“It was a really impressive opportunity to bring together so many professionals from across the island, to learn and work together,” said Dr Reade. “From MHC’s point of view, it has been useful to us.”

Mr Dewar added “we were very happy to be invited to take part in this to test our abilities, and combined with being with the other agencies, it was a great learning environment for our staff for a event like this that hopefully will never have to deal with.”

This year’s exercise brought together an impressive number of agencies and personnel. The 33 firefighters included four from Burpee and Mills, 12 from Gore Bay and Gordon, nine from Billings, eight from Central Manitoulin and spotters from the NEMI and Killarney fire departments. A total of 15 medical professionals from MHC and NOSM were on site, 13 paramedics from the Manitoulin-Espanola DSB Paramedic Services, two members of the OPP Manitoulin Detachment, six employees from Manitoulin Transport, Mr. Colwell and two other airport employees, and two members of the Manitoulin Amateur Radio Club.

“That’s why we’re helping put these exercises in place,” Gervais said. “It’s a great way to identify training, personnel and equipment needs. Everyone worked very well together and had the same mission in mind: to put the patients and the care of the pilots first.

Transport Canada requires each airport to conduct a full-scale emergency exercise every four years, and table-top tests of their emergency response plan every year in between. Full-scale emergency training exercises are designed to assess the airport’s ability to follow its emergency plan and preparedness training.

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