Farmington School District prepares for emergencies

St. Francois County Ambulance EMT Dustin Tate explains a chart listing decisions that must be made when treating a casualty. He spoke during a training for instructors at the Farmington School District.

The Farmington School District held training last week for its medical, and search and rescue teams that are used in the case of a mass casualty event.

Farmington School District Safety Director John Krause is in charge of training school staff for responding to any emergency scenario.

“Today we gave three hours of training for both our medical teams and search and rescue teams across the district,” he said. “If we have an emergency in the district, we have plans in place and basically break it into four phases. We have an identification of a threat, that threat is life or limb.

"We have an immediate response to that. There’s seven to eight responses that we can use in the classroom. Once the threat is subsided, there’s no other immediate threat to life or limb, we move into the management phase. Part of that management phase is if we have medical needs and whether we have individuals that are missing.”

The medical training is about the basics of treating the three killers: breathing, bleeding or shock. Staff are trained to treat those and keep individuals alive until first responders get there. The search and rescue is designed to be able to find and triage individuals still inside a building.

According to Krause, it is important for all staff to know how to make correct decisions in the case of an emergency.

“Teachers know that they have the ability to use the information that they have," she said. "They don’t have to get an announcement. They use the information they have to utilize the response that’s going to do the most good for the most individuals.”

Krause stressed that the teams are not first responder professionals and cannot take care of all situations, but are encouraged to make good decisions when reacting to an emergency.

“We are attempting to do the greatest good for the greatest number of individuals,” he said. “We are somewhat limited by our number of resources, the manpower that is available, and our training, knowing that the professional first responders may be overwhelmed, if we can do good for some, then we will.”

Search and rescue in damaged buildings can be a complicated process that involves structural hazards, live electrical wires, gas leaks and running water. Krause said a proper plan is necessary to maximize finding all building occupants.

“We use safe techniques for debris removal, survivor extrication, safety during search and rescue and conducting searches,” he said. “We’re gathering facts, assessing damage, considering possibilities, assessing the situation, establishing priorities, making decisions, developing a plan of action, taking action, evaluating progress. There’s a lot going on there.”

The time of day is a major factor on how to approach a search and rescue, as this determines where the students are located during lunch or in the morning where students are not yet in classrooms.

“Those details are going to help us make decisions based on, once we determine it is safe, what areas we want to approach first,” said Krause.

EMT Dustin Tate with the St. Francois County Ambulance District instructed staff in the afternoon on the basics of how to medically treat casualties.

“The school has a couple of different teams that in the event of an emergency at any of the schools in Farmington, they will react to it,” he said. “If they have a tornado, school shooter, any type of disaster, they will be able to act quickly.

"Mr. Krause asked me to come in and talk about triage, which is basically sorting patients out depending on their condition, whether they are critical, non-critical, what their needs may be.

“It’s kind of a refresher for them. We also went over some real simple treatments. How to control bleeding, understanding what shock is, how to prevent shock, things of that nature.”

Tate is impressed with the district’s safety program and the training they use for mass casualty events.

“They really have a great system set up to where they account for all students and faculty through sheets that each of the teachers have,” he said. “In the event a student’s not accounted for, they can go back, find that individual inside the classroom or whatever. It’s a really good system.

“I think they have a really good system down pat. I’m glad to see how progressive they train, and how often they come in and sit down and talk about it. Krause does an amazing job of it. I’ve been teaching at the high school since 2014 for the ambulance district, the progression that has been made since then has gone through the roof. It’s amazing to see what they’ve done.”

Tate noted that the teams are not necessarily designed to go from building to building to assist an event, unless absolutely necessary. They are trained to stay at the building where they are assigned.

“Each school has a designated team that is medical and a search and rescue team, in the event that happens at their school, they are going to react to that situation, and then await the arrival of EMS, fire and law enforcement,” he said. “Our larger schools, like our high school and the middle school have multiple teams that are able to respond.

"A lot of them have CPR, first aid training and a lot of really good resources that they go to and keep up on. It’s an all-volunteer force, which is an awesome thing as well.”

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Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at mmarberry@farmingtonpressonline.com


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