Robins Airmen help Macon hospital in disaster exercise

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
A group of Airmen at Robins volunteered to be in a building collapse last week - a theoretical one, that is.

The Airmen traveled to Macon on Dec. 10 to participate in an exercise by the Medical Center of Central Georgia in which it was training to deal with mass injuries and chemical exposure. The scenario was that a building had collapsed and dozens of occupants suffered physical injuries and exposure to ammonia.

About 50 volunteers played the role of victims, including high school students from Crawford County, members of the Houston County Community Emergency Response Team and 17 Airmen from Robins.

They gathered Thursday morning at the Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Agency where make up, fairly gruesome in some cases, was used to simulate various injuries. One person even carried a fake dismembered leg.

Cornstarch splashed on skin simulated dust from the explosion, and each person was given a card that told them what their symptoms should be.

Staff Sgt. Tina Sampson, an information technology specialist in the 116th Communications Squadron, had a rather realistic injury applied to her left arm.

"Nasty," is how she described it. She also had fake blood coming out of her ears and was supposed to tell medical personnell that she had lost her hearing.

"I thought it would be exciting to be a part of it," she said after getting the makeup applied. "It will be interesting to watch."

The scenario was set up strictly to test the response of the hospital, not the response of field emergency personnel. Most of the "victims" were taken by bus to the hospital, including a few in an ambulance.

They were dropped off outside the emergency center where hospital personnel met them and gauged which injuries were the most serious. Each patient was given red, green or yellow ribbons to signify which had the most urgent need and which area they should be taken to. Some were identified as having ammonia exposure and were taken to a separate area where decontamination was simulated.

"To me, it's something important that could happen and I wanted to help out with that," said Staff Sgt. Robert Mayner, a crew chief in the 116th Air Control Wing.

Master Sgt. William Pounds, the group leader, is emergency management readiness supervisor in the 116th ACW. He said he wanted to participate because he runs similar exercises in the 116th ACW.

"I wanted to get involved and see what they do," he said. "We can form a liaison with the public rather than being concentrated on base."

Mary Jennings, who coordinated the volunteers for the exercise, said Robins is a good place to turn to for participants in such events. "They are always great and reliable," she said. "I've used them two other times for other events."