The North Island’s emergency services providers were put to the test Sunday with a mock disaster that brought in resources from Port Alice, Port Hardy and Port McNeill and utilized hospital staff in both Port Hardy and Port McNeill.
The emergency response exercise started with the “crash” of a school bus carrying 24 students, played by members of Port McNeill’s Junior Rangers program. The decommissioned bus was placed on its side on the road behind the old Keogh Generating Station, located between Port McNeill and Port Hardy, and was designed to simulate a crash on Highway 19.
An RCMP officer was first to arrive, quickly followed by members of the Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Port Alice fire departments. The ‘victims’, sporting garishly effective makeup and wailing for help or drifting in a daze, were extracted from the overturned bus and treated by both fire department and BC Ambulance Service personnel.
They were then taken for further treatment to both Port Hardy and Port McNeill hospitals.
The actions of all responders were graded by evaluators wielding clipboards and a videocamera. The exercise will be fully evaluated in the coming weeks, said Chuck Lok, the North Island’s Emergency Program Coordinator.
“Overall, it was my observation that it was very efficient and everything flowed together well,” Lok said. “There are always issues with communications when you’ve got people from different departments using radios set on different frequencies, and that’s something we’re going to have to take a look at.
“It’s one of these advantages of living in a small community; we work well together. Overall, the whole thing progressed very well and smoothly.”