An overturned school bus, wrecked van, and dozens of first responders -- all part of a hectic scene at the Dodge County Fairgrounds Thursday afternoon. But it was by design.
Dodge County Emergency Management and the Dodge County Sheriff's Office hosted the largest mass casualty training exercise in county history, which ran from about 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Law enforcement agencies, fire departments and ambulance services from throughout Dodge County -- as well as the Mayo One helicopter-- took part in the exercise. The mock scenario was a wreck involving a school bus full of students and a minivan.
Actors played the role of victims inside the vehicles. First responders had to work together to free them, tend to their simulated wounds, and transport them to a mock hospital.
"What's really unique is getting all the public safety groups working together on the exact same exercise," said Dodge County Emergency Management Director Matt Maas. "There are multiple fire departments here from throughout the county, multiple ambulance services, multiple law enforcement jurisdictions. Getting all of them to work together on the same thing, along with engaging public health in the exercise and managing family reunification centers, family assistance centers, to manage an incident of this size and getting the information to loved ones and family members as quick as they can."
School and transportation officials were watching the exercise to see how they can incorporate a mass casualty response into their plans. Evaluators were also on hand to assess the first responders' performance.