Forever known as #20

Some years ago, I joined the Medical Reserve Corp.  I felt that, since I was retired and had the free time, I needed to give back to the community and try to help those in dire need.  Ok, so I’m not a doctor or nurse.  I’m a computer nerd and bookkeeper.  What does that have to do with MRC?

I found that even medical personnel need nerds and pencil-pushers.  Hah!  I was assigned as a Logistics/Supply Manager.  Although I’ve never been called up, I have been through lots of training and now have a greater appreciation of our emergency services personnel!

For example, this morning, I went to the Denton Airport to assist in an exercise of a plane crash.  This was a Denton exercise and the Denton County MRC was just helping out.  We were accident victims and the first thing we received was a sticker to wear that said “Deceased.”

The FEMA Corp was also there, composed of a lot of young people from across the country.  Also, victims, they got the job of reacting to the crash and to their injuries, some of which were very bloody.  The MRC was in charge of the “moulage” area.  For those who don’t know what that is, moulage is “the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training Emergency Response Teams.”

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Only the “live” victims were given mock injuries.  Those of us listed as “Deceased” were only assigned white face makeup.  They didn’t need much of that for me.  Come to think of it, my before and after pictures didn’t look all that different since I started out with no makeup at all!

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Once everything was prepped,  most of us strolled out onto a side tarmac with a plastic sheet to lie on so we weren’t directly on the wet pavement.  A few were locked inside the remains of a small plane, as would be the case in the event of a real crash, and there were wing parts scattered all around us.

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Then came the GO alert…

A loud boom sounded.  Pans full of diesel were set ablaze in an area next to us, creating lots of black smoke, thankfully blown away from us.  It was quiet.  People from the hangar watched silently.  Safety personnel, “observers” and photographers walked among us.  It was a little surreal.

After a few minutes, sirens could be heard, getting louder as they neared.  Fire trucks and EMT ambulances came to our rescue.  There were emergency personnel everywhere, all of whom had walkie-talkies!  Helicopters rushed three of the group to local hospitals and ambulances sped away with the other “survivors,” while the rest of us waited to be moved to the temporary morgue beside the hangar.

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This was truly an area event.  I saw Denton and Justin fire fighters.  I saw EMTs from Denton, Lake Cities, Sanger, and Argyle.  Then the Medical Examiners arrived from Tarrant County.  FEMA was there also watching the progress.  Everyone had their job and they did it efficiently and effectively.

Yes, it was only a drill but these people took it very seriously and processed each one of us.  We also took it very seriously and played our roles to the best of our ability. I heard people crying out in pain, moaning, and sometimes even harassing the emergency personnel to come help them.  Ok, some of them weren’t meant to be actors but they all tried!

My job, “Deceased,” was easy.  Lie there and let the ME look for our ID and other personal effects.  Let them try to get our stats from what they found around us.  I am now known as #20 on their forms, Kay Teer, white, female, adult, no DOB.  The ME bagged our personal property and wrote our info on the outside of the bag.  They completed a red tag and tied it to our wrist.  No toe tags used; we were all wearing shoes!  At that point, we were free to walk to the hangar instead of being wrapped in a sheet and carried to the temp morgue.  Yay.

I was on top of a plastic sheet with my head on top of my raincoat, wearing a cap with a bill, for just about an hour and twenty minutes.  Let me tell you what I have learned.  Pavement is hard. It’s better to wear your cap over your face when it’s raining and you’re lying face-up.  It’s difficult to stay still for that long, especially on a cold hard flat surface.  My back was stiff and my snuggly soft bed has been calling my name the rest of the day!

What a day.  I was miserable.  I was wet and cold.  I was “Deceased.”  But they had hot coffee and breakfast, a good group of volunteers, and the efficient emergency teams who were really nice and grateful for our help.  I felt needed and glad that I could help out.  SO, today was a good day!!!

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3 responses to “Forever known as #20

  1. Sandy Hubert

    What an experience! So glad people like you are willing to go through this drill. It will save l;ives!

  2. Lou Magness

    So great of you, Kay, to volunteer for something like that. I’m sure it will help others learn how to handle emergencies.
    Lou Magness