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Gainesville Emergency Response Drill Brings Agencies, Students Together

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Gainesville Fire Rescue responds to an injured passenger in a mock crash. The emergency drill is performed every three years, and Santa Fe students are incorporated.
Gainesville Fire Rescue responds to an injured passenger in a mock crash. The emergency drill is performed every three years, and Santa Fe College students are incorporated.

For drivers near the Gainesville Regional Airport Thursday, the sight of several fire trucks, ambulances, police cars and the ShandsCair helicopter might have worried them.

A mock plane crash set the scene of a full-scale emergency rescue drill at Gainesville Regional Airport Thursday.

The drill simulates real-life injury and responsive measures from Alachua County Fire Rescue, Gainesville Police Department and more than 20 local emergency-response units.

The drill allows personnel to practice communication and interaction between the agencies, said Jeff Lane, Gainesville Fire Rescue assistant fire chief.

“It brings together 20 agencies from our area,” Lane said. “So it’s really important we have our plans together and our people ready for these kinds of drills because the real thing may happen every day.”

Special effects, makeup and enthusiastic acting added to the simulation’s authenticity. Sante Fe students volunteered as victims.

“We’re going to be able to witness firsthand the process of … transportation and treatment when it comes to emergency disasters,” Brandon Star, a Santa Fe College EMT student and volunteer victim, said. “Since the scenario is passed off as a plane crash, I was one of the passengers. (I have) burn marks, glass sticking out of me — basically, the injuries you would expect from a plane crash.”

Emergency personnel responded to students and test dummies by assessing injuries and administering proper care. Victims were then transported to UF Health Shands Hospital.

The drill helps students get practical experience, Brandon Thorton, a Santa Fe College EMT student who also volunteered, said.

“This is a total live scenario. … If your patient has lacerations, they will actually bandage that patient, Thorton said. “We practice, practice, practice and come out here and put our skills to the test.”

The drill occurs every three years.

About Ebony Joseph

Ebony is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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