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Rutland Is Staging A Mock Plane Crash To Test Emergency Response

A mock disaster will be staged at Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport on Saturday morning to help first responders and the hospital better prepare for emergencies.

For anyone near Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport Saturday morning, don’t worry: What may look like a disaster is just a drill.

The airport and Rutland Regional Medical Center are sponsoring a mock plane crash that will include about 150 people.  Everyone from fire fighters and emergency medical technicians to actors, law enforcement, airport and hospital personnel will be taking part.

Beth Winter manages emergency preparedness at Rutland Regional Medical Center.

“How are we going to handle that influx of patients into an already busy emergency department?” she asks. “What’s it going to look like? How are we going to do it?”

Winter says besides helping the hospital answer these types of questions, a drill of this scale helps the entire community.

“We have to be ready, we have to have plans in place.  We need to know what we’re going to do should we have an incident like an M.C.I.,” which Winter explains means a "mass casualty incident."

Evaluators will be on hand to assess how the various agencies respond and they'll provide a debriefing immediately after the event. A final report will also be issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

Winter says if an agency is found to be deficient in some way, it’s up to that organization to make an improvement plan and implement it.

"We have to be ready. We have to have plans in place. We need to know what we are going to do should we have an MCI, a mass casualty incident." — Beth Winter, Emergency Preparedness Manager at Rutland Regional Medical Center

“Let’s say communications here in the hospital might have fallen short because we had a malfunction with a piece of equipment or just something didn’t work as it should have. An improvement to that needs to be made," says Winter. "So there’s always follow through from these exercises. It’s not just time to practice.” 

Chris Beitzel, manager of Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport, says the drill is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and will not disrupt regular air traffic. Organizers say normal hospital Emergency Department operations and patient care, along with operations of other participating agencies, will not be affected by the exercise.

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