The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 15, 2013

A big brawl — with a purpose

Several agencies take part in drill responding to mock fight

(Continued)

Police, meanwhile, were left to assess injuries — each victim had a card hanging from their neck describing their conditions — and work with the few paramedics who arrived early to move victims to a staging area outside the bar for transport by ambulances. Firefighters, who were called to the scene and asked to enter the bar to get more victims, refused, saying they couldn't safely enter the bar of rowdy patrons.

Public Safety Director Todd Miller, who with about 50 other onlookers, including elected officials, watched the drill from the Cherry Street parking ramp. He said the chaos and unexpected circumstances were all part of the training. The students threw a few script changes in on their own, building a barricade of bar stools, tables and trash cans inside the bar in front of the doors, throwing some empty plastic cups at police and running in different directions and circling back into the chaos.

"That wasn't in the script," Miller said of the barricade. "But it's good. That's the kind of things that happen."

Weller said the training was not aimed at tactical training for police. "Our main goals are command and control, incident command and communications. With a multi-agency response those are the keys."

For hospital personnel, it was a chance to test their limits with an overwhelming number of patients coming to the Emergency Department, with a variety of injuries and chemical contamination.

Part of the ER was used for those with real emergency needs, while extra staff manned another part of the department to run the victims through the system. A decontamination shower tent was also set up outside the hospital.

"As part of their certification process, they have to push their system to burst," said Weller of the drill. "This will do that."

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