Ind.: Ambulance equipment ready for mass casualty incidents
By Lou Mumford
South Bend Tribune (Indiana)
Copyright 2006 South Bend Tribune Corporation
All Rights Reserved
BERRIEN SPRINGS, Ind. — Area ambulance personnel hope a pair of emergency preparedness trailers purchased through a federal grant will never have to be used.
At least, they can rest easier knowing the equipment is available.
On Monday, U.S. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, was at the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Fire Station, 4411 E. Snow Road, to unveil the equipment contained in the trailers.
He pointed out each of the units and its equipment cost $47,500, adding they'll be called upon not only for mass casualty incidents in Berrien County but Cass County and northern Indiana.
One of the units will be housed at the SMCAS headquarters on Chicago Road and the other, intended primarily for use by Medic 1, will be parked at the Lake Township Water Department in Bridgman.
Upton said it makes sense to have the equipment, ranging from large tents and a generator to splints, intravenous and advanced airway apparatus, in one or two easily accessible locations rather than spread out over individual fire departments. Berrien alone has 27 such departments, said SMCAS Director Marlene Beach.
Had one of the trailers been available Monday in Huntsville, Ala., it no doubt would have been activated, Upton said.
"They had that school bus accident down South today (Monday)," Upton said. Several children were killed and injured when a school bus went off an overpass.
He said the equipment would have come in handy also in February 2003 on Interstate 94 near Benton Harbor, when dozens of vehicles collided in a blinding snowstorm. A Hartford, Mich., resident died in the crash.
Other possible circumstances that would trigger use of the equipment would be a tornado, an emergency at the Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Bridgman or an incident at the Tank Town fuel-storage facility in Niles Township.
Beach said Upton's timing in obtaining the grant couldn't have been better.
"We got it before the change in power," she said, referring to the Democratic Party taking control of both the U.S. House and Senate in the Nov. 7 general election.