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Lubbock agencies prepare for various disasters in city-wide drill

Updated: Mar. 11, 2020 at 6:35 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The City of Lubbock put on a city-wide disaster drill this morning.

More than 300 volunteers participated in the exercise, which started with a staged plane crash.

Preston Smith International Airport, along with the City of Lubbock, first responders, local hospitals and law enforcement practiced their emergency response as if the scenario were real.

Fire Battalion Chief, Bill Glass, took KCBD on a behind the scenes tour of the city-wide disaster drill.

“It’s really a neat aspect when you see the entire community come together for one goal,” Glass said.

At 7:00 am we loaded up, our first stop was Lubbock fire rescue.

There, Stuart Walker with the Environmental Health Department briefed participants on the exercise.

At 7:30 am, the plane crashed. It is an American Airlines 737 with 157 souls on board.

“Those are families,” Glass said. “Those are husbands, wives, children coming in and out of Lubbock.”

The fire department jumped into action.

At the scene of the crash, we saw up-close how first responders locate and identify victims. They use what is called a triage tag to classify people by the severity of their injuries.

Green for minimal, yellow for moderate, red for critical and black for deceased.

Next, they showed us how the airport is handling the situation. They set up a space for relatives of the victims to meet and ask questions.

Then, we went to University Medical Center and Covenant Medial Center. Both hospitals used the colored triage tags to prioritize the order of care for the victims.

UMS’s Eric Finley and Dr. Charles Bayouth at Covenant had specific goals they were working toward in today’s exercise.

“The focus is on patient care and taking care of as many patients as we can to help the community,” Bayouth said.

“One of the things we would like to do this time is make sure that we do a better job of tracking what patients we have and where they go,” Finley said.

Last, we went to the Emergency Operations Center. There, we saw how each agency communicates with each other and the public during a disaster.

Rachel Dolan, the city’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, said the drill helped her team identify areas of weakness.

“Trying to keep track of those numbers would seem like it’s easy, but there’s one or two numbers here off every now and then,” Dolan said.

Dr. Bayouth said drills are the best kind of practice.

“Just helps you kind of have muscle memory, kind of like an NBA player shoots at the free throw line, they practice enough and they get really good at it,” Bayouth said.

Glass said, as a citizen, he would feel a sense of relief knowing the people he expects to care for him are there.

“They’re doing their job and they’re training to make sure they’re ready to go at a moment’s notice,” Glass said.

Over the next couple of weeks, the city will be analyzing the data from today’s drill to learn how they can respond to disasters more effectively.

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