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Emergency responders carry a 'patient' from the scene a plane crash during an mass casualty drill in Peru on Saturday.
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Simulated Plane Crash Gives Responders Mass Casualty Training

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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A first-responder treats a 'patient' during Saturday's drill. Nearly three dozen agencies participated.
PERU, Mass. — Around 30 agencies worked to rescue more than 15 "injured teenagers" from Garnet Peak on Saturday.
There were stretchers, all-terrain vehicles, rescue vehicles, and emergency personnel working to get the young people to safety from the scene — a plane crash deep in the woods.
The event was a mass casualty incident drill to provide training and education for emergency responders and see how such an event would be addressed in the small town of Peru.
Though there was no crash and all the ailments were simulated with theatrical makeup, it occurred less than a mile from the site where a Douglas C-53 military transport plane crashed on Aug. 15, 1942, and killed 16 out of 19 its Army Air Forces passengers.
Samuel Haupt, first lieutenant for the Peru Volunteer Fire Department, said the idea was to test the town's emergency medical services  and rescue response to an airplane crash on Garnet Mountain Road and make sure that they can safely and effectively triage, treat and transport.
"We're a very small department, like many small towns in the area, so we rely on whatever other local and county and state resources are available," he said. "This is a good way to figure out what our capabilities are, test those capabilities, give all those departments a better understanding of what equipment and resources are available to everybody and test the action plan created by (planning section chief Charles 'Butch' Garrity,) and we're going to have a review and figure out how we did."
This is the first time that a plane crash has been simulated in the town and the first drill of its kind in many years. Planning began in February and the event began at 6 a.m. and ended around noon.
"I think it was a good learning experience for everybody," Police Chief Bruce Cullet said.
"We certainly found some things that were difficult, communications was an issue early on, there's a lot of things to work on but this is the time to identify those things and this is the time to work on them."
Responders from Dalton, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, Middlefield, Springfield and Windsor, and from the State Police were among the involved departments.
The patients were from the Wahconah Regional High School drama club and the Southwick Boy Scouts. They were all given note cards describing their injuries that ranged from minor to life-threatening and were designated as either red, yellow or green.
These triage labelings are used to identify victims in an incident by the seriousness of their condition. Red means that a person is critically injured, yellow means they are seriously injured, and green is used for minor injuries.
Fatalities or near fatalities are labeled as black.
There were two fatalities that were represented with "Rescue Randy" mannequins, four red patients, six yellow patients, and four green patients. On par with typical plane crash injuries, the ailments included burns and possible fuel contamination.
Drill evaluator Michael Pandora, who works for Western Mass Mutual EMS, explained the triage system based on RPM: respiration, perfusion, and mental status.
If one of the RPMs is off, a person is considered to have red level injuries.
Respiration should not be more than 30, Pandora said, and for perfusion, a person's nails are checked for a capillary refill to make sure they are getting circulation to their extremities. Mental status is checked by asking a person if they know who they are, what day it is, where they are, and what happened to them.  
When arriving at a mass casualty scene, responders will first call for anyone who is able to walk over to them — "walking wounded" — and identifies them initially as green. The severe red level injuries are then addressed followed by the less severe yellow ones.
At the drill, patients with more severe injuries were acting distressed by crying, shaking, or screaming to portray a real plane crash scene.
Communication was identified as the largest hurdle in the situation, as the radios that were being used so that different departments could communicate were in too long of a range for clarity early on. This was able to be solved by using cell phones until a member of the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office was able to provide aid for the technical problem.
Both a State Police helicopter and a LifeStar aircraft were expected to make an appearance for the event but were unable to because of weather conditions in the locations they were departing from.
Cullet said there was no specific reason that the drill was held in the area of the 1942 crash other than the fact that it is a remote location with limited access and has conditions that could sometimes make flying difficult.
"If you saw the weather this morning, that's very typical for Peru with low clouds," he said in regards to the fog that cast over the town on Saturday morning.
"Especially in the summertime, that's very common, and visibility often is limited so, that area is the high point in town for the most part so if a plane was to have a difficulty that might be the location that it would have it."
He also reported that there have been a handful of plane crashes in Peru over the years.
It was recognized that this event was a good opportunity for the smaller communities to come together.
"It's just everyone coming together working together, getting people familiar with each other," Peru Fire Chief Jesse Pelkey said, adding that many of the communities have worked together and it was great to meet the new ones.
Before the event, Safety Officer Larry Holmberg gave a briefing for both patients and responders and advised the event throughout.
After the drill was a debriefing, also called a "hot water session," when feedback is provided and analyzed by the many observers that were on the scene.

Participants included:

Berkshire Sheriff’s Communications Center and Unit
Berkshire Medical Center
County Ambulance
Dalton Dispatch
Dalton Fire Department
Department of Conservation and Recreation District 12
The state Environmental Police
Evaluators Matthew Wolkenbreit and Mike Pandora
Highland Ambulance
Hinsdale Fire Department
Hinsdale Police Department
Lanesborough Fire
Massachusetts State Police
Middlefield Police
Middlefield UTV
Northwest Massachusetts Incident Management Team
Peru Auxiliary Police
Peru Police Department
Peru Department of Public Works
Savoy Fire Department
Southwick Boy Scouts
Springfield Central Medical Emergency Direction
Wahconah Drama Club
White Wolf
Windsor Fire Department
Windsor Police Department
Western Mass Emergency Medical Services
Western Mass Technical Rescue Team

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