CROWN POINT - St. Anthony Medical Center emergency room staff was put to the
test Tuesday afternoon when 18 "patients" were admitted following a surprise
Marlene Peacock, Cedar Lake emergency medical technician, set up the drill
to include a tornado in Cedar Lake, a train derailment caused by the tornado
and a damaged restaurant - with victims trapped in the train and the building.
From a pregnant woman to a chlorine burn victim - all patients were treated
in about an hour.
Crown Point High School students from Hal Oppenhuis' health class
volunteered to participate as victims.
This is the Oppenhuis' third disaster drill. "It's good to see the kids get
involved in other aspects of life," he said.
A Crown Point ambulance manned by Paramedic Mark Baumgardner was the first
to arrive. His unit assumed command of the area near Cedar Lake.
Emergency Medical Technician Leo Leguire drove the second ambulance to the
scene. His job was to determine the severity of the injuries.
Radio communication was handled by Rick Terpstra, a member of Tri-County
United Medical Personnel - the disaster team sponsoring the drill.
Terpstra was responsible for announcing the disaster. He realized anyone
listening on a police scanner would assume the disaster was real, so from time
to time, he was forced to indicate, "This is a test communication."
Emergency personnel from Dyer, Newton County, Crown Point, Highland and
Griffith participated. Cedar Lake participated as a town that was unable to
transport because of "downed trees."
"Every disaster drill lends itself to a learning experience, and we've
learned quite a few good things here today," said Emergency Room Medical
Director Martha Mechei, founder of the disaster response team.
Injuries ranged from serious to fatal during the mock drill, which was not
announced in advance in order to make it more realistic to participants.
Patient Amber Batson, who suffered a head injury, found it a little
frightening to ride in an ambulance, but she said but the ambulance workers
Kelly Stark whose injury was caused by a piece of board embedded in her
chest, called the ambulance ride "pretty cool. We were told by our teacher to
pretend it was real. But, I feel like if anything really does happen to me, I
will be taken care of," she said.
Brian Puaca was declared "dead" and was actually taken to the morgue. "It
was interesting," Puaca said.
Janet Green, director of Emergency Services, conducted a survey after the
drill and asked the students to "review and share experiences."
The group plans to meet at noon Nov. 11 to evaluate its performance.