First responders practice with large-scale simulation - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

First responders practice with large-scale simulation

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FRANKLIN CO. -- First responders from across southern Illinois were running drills to prepare for emergency situations that could occur in our communities. 

Dozens of fire trucks, ambulances, and even an AirEvac helicopter, rushed to West City Saturday morning. There, crews performed a full-scale exercise that simulated a hazmat traffic accident, where a mass transit bus ran into a tank of anhydrous ammonia.

First responders rushed to the scene, focused on keeping the situation as real as possible.

"Fortunately, we do not have to do this type of work every day. So it's important for us to stay proficient in these skills and that's the purpose of today's drill," said Ryan Buckinham, Director of Franklin County EMA. 

Buckingham says simulations are important to keep first responders ready for any situation. At the simulation, firefighters focused on keeping the ammonia leak under control, while EMT's rushed to help the victims. 

Those victims were volunteers from local groups. Some of those volunteers were able to walk away from the scene of the crash, while others had to be rushed away by ambulance and even helicopter. All as officials evaluating stood watch, taking notes

"The reason we conduct these exercises is to find ways that we can improve our emergency response and make it a little better for the next time, when it happens in the real world," said Buckingham. 

Buckingham says full scale simulations like this help ensure a seamless flow from emergency personnel in the case of an actual situation.

"It's important that we're prepared for these types of hazardous materials and the mass casualty emergencies that could happen in our communities," said Buckingham. 

After the drill, EMA officials and first responders went over what they can improve.

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