"We do hold mutual aid agreements with all these agencies, so they would join us in a disaster of this magnitude," said Ashley Powell, director of Lincoln County EMS and coordinator of the drill. "It trains us in the operations between the services, our command structure, communications and other things."
Emergency responders like to participate in at least one mock disaster a year to help them keep up with their required training. Past drills have included a school shooting and fatal tornado outbreak, giving participants a chance to test their responses to a new calamity each time.
This year's drill involved a couple of new twists particular to Lincoln County.
The new Fort Logan Hospital, which opened last year, requested to be included in the event so it could test its facilities and staff in dealing with a large-scale emergency. The simulated crash occurred directly across U.S. 150 from the hospital, and victims were transported there for treatment.
The mock disaster also was staged as Lincoln County is trying to regroup from its poor performance during the real disaster of the January ice storm. Former Emergency Management Director Winford Todd was fired in the wake of the storm and a countywide committee was formed to upgrade the county's emergency response plan.
Todd's top assistant, deputy county fire chief Troy Gingrass, is serving as interim EMA director as Fiscal Court is trying to hire Todd's permanent replacement. Gingrass is one of three finalists for that job and said Wednesday's drill was on-the-job training for the post.
Gingrass didn't actively participate in the drill but served as a critic and evaluator of how other responders performed their duties. That will help Lincoln County revamp its emergency plans whether he gets the job or not, Gingrass said.
"The plans we have now are so vague. There's no detail," he explained. "This is a very good training tool to see what our mistakes are and where we need to improve. Basically, it will help us get our plans updated."