Emergency response training takes over Westminster Ponds

Fanshawe College paramedic students treat 'victims' of simulated tornado at Westminster Ponds, Oct. 12, 2017. Jaclyn Carbone / 980 CFPL

Emergencies can happen at any time. Whether it’s a plane crash, a hurricane, or some other disaster, it’s crucial that those involved in keeping the public safe know what to do.

On Thursday, Westminster Ponds was filled with emergency personnel and other local agencies in what was the area’s largest emergency field practice scenario to date.

READ MORE: Emergency response training closes Westminster Ponds to the public

The scenario is called Foxtrot 2.

“The scenario today is in relation to a tornado that touched down in the Westminster Ponds area. We had a cross country meet going on and there are multiple casualties,” said Const. Sandasha Bough.

Working together, first responders along with 15 other local agencies, such as the London Health Sciences Centre, area hospitals, and London Search and Rescue, located and helped the ‘injured,’ who were then taken to hospitals where they were treated in the emergency or operating rooms. Essentially this training exercise includes every possible agency that would be involved

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Essentially this training exercise includes every possible agency that would be involved if a large emergency were to happen, and works through what each group has to do, while also making sure communication and interaction between the groups is seamless.

London Police treat ‘tornado victim’ who’s been impaled by a branch.

“Even in these scenarios we’re treating it as if it’s real. So it’s not an actual play scenario; we’re doing everything like we would in a real situation. We definitely learn from things that we may not have known before. There’s always room for improvement,” said Bough. “Everyone involved comes out better, and they know what to expect in the future if we were ever to face a scenario like this one.”

Police could be seen doing a grid walk as they searched for victims. A crew was out on a Zodiac, performing a water rescue. Elsewhere, a triage was set-up where victims were placed on green, yellow, or red tarps depending on their level of injury, and there was even an area staged for family members, because in a real situation, Bough said, families would be asking questions.

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READ MORE: Mock plane disaster tests emergency response at YYC Calgary International Airport

They’re not just doing this field training for fun. It’s actually federally mandated.

“We do need to practice once a year, that’s mandated. Every five years we do a larger practice scenario like this one,” said Bough.

More than 400 people were involved in the scenario, with about 90 acting as those injured in the cross country meet.

The emergency field training ran from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday.

The exercise areas were closed to the public for the duration of the training, including the lands and trails in and around Westminster Pond, Tumblesons Pond and Spettigue Pond.

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