Local first responders set for mass fatality training class

Becky Campbell • Dec 17, 2012 at 10:05 PM

A mass fatality training course scheduled next year will help local first responders if a large-scale event occurs here, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting could spur interest in the topic, a local official said.

Washington County/Johnson City EMS Executive Director Dan Wheeley said the information for the one-day course was sent to all first responder agencies in the region.

The training will be provided through the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium and hosted by EMS, he said.

“Obviously we’ve had our fair share of mass casualties in Washington County — the bus crash, the flooding back in August .... we’ve had several mass casualties over the years. It made sense for us to host that locally for our guys and other local responders,” Wheeley said.

According to course developer and instructor Arbie Goings, a funeral director from Louisiana, the eight-hour course is only an introduction to mass fatality response.

“It is an awareness-level course. In eight hours it would be completely impossible to teach all the ins and outs of a mass fatality response. This is an introduction to mass fatality response where we expose them to the different facets of a response such as body recovery, morgue operations and family assistance operations and how they work together,” Goings said.

"Should local officials find themselves in the midst of a mass fatality response, all this won’t be foreign to them,” he said. “They will at least have a basic knowledge.”

The course also touches on how federal, state and local agencies join together to respond to the emergency, he said.

As Wheeley said, local responders have experience with mass casualty events, and each is a learning experience. He said this course will provide responders with more information on how to deal with issues in the aftermath of such an event.

“Mass casualty incidents fortunately don’t happen every day ... the more we train, the more we streamline our processes,” Wheeley said.

Two identical training classes will take place Feb. 1 and 2, free of charge, and is open to first responders.

For more information about the RDPC and courses it teaches rural emergency responders, visit www.ruraltraining.org.

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