Disaster drill tests Charlotte's first responders

By Derrick Rose Bio | Email | Twitter

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - First responders in the Queen City had their disaster response training tested Wednesday during a drill to measure the ability of local agencies and hospitals to respond to the sudden arrival of dozens of seriously injured patients.

The N.C. Air National Guard, along with the Charlotte-Mecklengburg Emergency Management will participate in Wednesday's drill which will include more than a dozen local, state, and national emergency responders.

"We put as much realism as possible," one official said.

The only thing more real than the patients, was if they were actually injured. Volunteer actors helped in the disaster drill, writing part of the script for emergency response. "It's a learning experience number one and exercise number 2, but we're also going to use this as a way to define our plan," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Director of Emergency Management Wayne Broome.

Under the National Disaster Medical System, victims from a disaster in a different major metro area would come to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, one of only two receiving sites in the state. The other is in Raleigh.

The disaster Wednesday: A Category 5 hurricane.

Victims went from transport plane to triage. Injuries ran the spectrum. The most critical went straight to a mobile Med 1 -- the closest thing to an actual E.R.

It's up to the responders to keep patients calm and keep the process moving. The goal: evaluate how well the system works, and more importantly, what steps need improvement.

One area that's different from the last drill is the way emergency vehicles move in and out. the new system now has these wheels moving a lot smoother, and more patients moving faster for care.

"All of [the first responders] a whole are professional, know exactly what their job is, know how to do their job," Air National Guard Fire Chief Daryl Cook told WBTV, "what we've got to do on our end is ensure those things get into a cohesive plan and work together for everybody."

Passing the test comes in two parts: performance on this day and on the day they don't see coming.