LISBON - It was a nightmarish scene of carnage and destruction just outside Beaver Local High School Saturday afternoon. One car had crashed into a school bus filled with children, which in turn had rolled onto a second car wedged upside-down beneath its side. A third car had wrecked into that vehicle's back end. There was a pickup truck smashed into the front of the bus and another car behind it, fully engulfed in flames.
None of the parents gathered at the scene of the catastrophe seemed too upset, however, because the blood wasn't real, and neither was the scenario. It was a mock accident, staged by area emergency personnel, to graphically display the consequences of unsafe driving. It also served as practice for the police, fire, EMT and helicopter crews that all responded to the faux disaster.
David McCoy, assistant chief of the Calcutta Fire Department, organized the exercise, which he said was the first to use a school bus in 28 years. "All in all, I think it went very well," he said.
This is only a test. Emergency personnel from Calcutta, Glenmoor, Liverpool Township and several other departments participated in a mock traffic accident Saturday morning at Beaver Local High School. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
For the purposes of the drill, McCoy said local EMS services such as Tri-County and KLG were utilized, but suggested that others would have been called out for such a large crash. "We probably would have called a couple more fire departments, too," such as Negley and West Point. As it was, units from the Highlandtown, Glenmoor, Calcutta and Liverpool Township departments were all on hand. Air Evac Lifeteam and STAT MedEvac also sent a helicopter each to fly the would-be victims to nearby trauma centers.
Patrolmen from Liverpool Township and St. Clair police departments assisted in the drill, along with Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers. In addition to assisting with triage for the injured, the law officers also investigated the circumstances that led to the crash. They performed field sobriety tests on one of the less-injured parties, the slurring, belligerent driver of the pickup truck.
Arrested for OVI, and complimented on his acting skills, was Jeff Langdon of East Liverpool, who said he wasn't aware of his role in the drama until arriving at the scene. "Dave said, 'By the way, you're the drunk.'" This was Langdon's second year volunteering in the local emergency exercise, this time joined by his son, Joseph. "I think it was really informative for a lot of people. I liked it a lot," he said. Joseph added that he had recently received his driver's license, and the scenario had given him a lot to think about.
One of the "injured" students from the school bus was David Mellinger, a seventh-grader at Beaver Local Middle School. He said that he heard about it through his father, Dave Mellinger, who is a school bus driver for the district. "It was a good experience," David said, finding it fun and educational. "I know what to do when it happens: keep calm and don't freak out."
"This is the closest event that we can do without actually having the real deal," said Jason Mitchell, an EMT with Tri-County Ambulance who also serves with the Wellsville Fire Department. The exercise was a multi-organizational training, he said, with each department filling their role as if it were very real indeed. "Everything went great."