This past April 21, volunteers of all stripes descended upon Bainbridge’s Island Church for a simulated catastrophe. The “catastrophe” was a large-scale earthquake. The Church is one of the Island’s emergency hubs, places scattered around the Island where people will seek medical
care, psychological support, animal care, and shelter during such a mass casualty incident. The exercise was designed as an introduction to the hub system for volunteer emergency workers. The volunteers were testing out how to set up and operate a coordinated medical response at the hub.
“Patients”, many of them Island Church congregation members, showed up early for some moulage, or prosthetic and makeup injuries. Injuries included protruding bones, facial lacerations, head trauma, and internal bleeding among other traumas. Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members, currently under the auspices of Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management, came to provide transitional support: They will likely provide first aid and light search and rescue in the field and then help get patients from neighborhoods to the
More than 20 City-managed Woofers, or Wilderness First Responders, who have undergone
intense first responder medical training sponsored by COBI, showed up to provide triage and
medical care. The first WFR on scene, as dictated by the nationally adopted Incident Command
System, by default became incident commander and started organizing the large sanctuary for
triage and treatment. Subsequent arrivals showed up and were assigned to triage and medical
care. Then the patients began arriving, some screaming for help, others feigning lack of
Not everyone made it. Part of the exercise was deciding how to focus resources. When those
resources are overwhelmed by large patient numbers, WFRs have to decide how to help the
largest number of people. Some of the patients were slated for transportation to a makeshift
The Bainbridge Island Fire Department was on hand to observe and offer feedback. In an actual
emergency, they will provide the next level of care and transportation from hubs to definitive
care in Seattle or at clinics on the Island.
During a post-exercise feedback session, BIFD expressed how well they thought the exercise
had gone. Deputy Chief Jared Moravec said they were glad to see the skill level of the WFRs and
would happily work with them in an actual emergency. The exercise helped the WFR team fine
tune their operational procedures and test out and refine forms and strategies.
April’s exercise was just the first in a series of ongoing training scenarios and opportunities that
will be offered to the City’s newly trained WFR team. The biggest practice will be October’s
Great Shakeout, an international earthquake drill.