CANOGA PARK, CA. With the recent drama surrounding the Aliso Canyon gas leak in Porter Ranch and reminiscent of the San Bruno gas explosion, the Canoga Park Neighborhood Council and the Valley Bureau CERT Coordinators decided to conduct a full functional drill centered around a gas line explosion.
In preparation for the incident, Grossman Burn Center conducted a Just in Time Training for the CERT members and as the training and briefing was completed, sounds of an explosion could be heard and the CERT members along with ACS found an alley way, almost a city block long, littered with debris and victims.
This drill presented a scenario that was outside of the typical earthquake drill and presented a major challenge for the CERT Search and Rescue (SAR) teams, accompanied by an Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) member as their communications member, began a survey of the blast area.
As the SAR teams were getting organized, the Triage teams and Incident Command prepared for the intake of over 60 victims. As the SAR teams began their initial survey, the sounds of victims yelling, moaning and screaming for help could be heard throughout the scene.
The Medical teams at triage were inundated with more immediate care victims than any other drill, a ratio of almost 3 victims per CERT member on the tarps. As the Red Tarp overflowed with victims, SAR teams identified at least 5 victims in the field beyond help.
Additional victims were found on the playground and picnic areas as well as the gym of the Boys and Girls Club during the search of this large blast area, with an ongoing flood of victims. Upon the arrival of LAFD engine company 72, Rescue 72 and Rescue 872 supported by CERT Hydration Units 59 and 84, victims were identified according to the level of care and injuries to be transported. Burn victims were routed to the Burn Unit at West Hills hospital, trauma patients to Northridge Hospital and other injuries to Kaiser Hospital Woodland Hills. CERT members gained valuable experience working alongside the LAFD members and received compliments from the LAFD engine company 72 members for a job well done.
The drill training mission had two basic goals. The first being care and treatment of burns and the second being exposure to a Mass Casualty Incident other than an earthquake.
Many of the victims were actually actors taking part in a student film project. Their portrayal of victims to quote another person, made the drill, “frighteningly realistic”.
Without the support of the many partners including the Canoga Park Boys and Girls Club, Child Development Institute, Canoga Park Neighborhood Council, the Los Angeles Fire Department, Be More Prepared and Ross and his team from First on Scene – who did all the moulage, (burn and wound make-up) and Extreme International Films this successful event would not have taken place.
More photos can be seen HERE.