Friday, May 20, 2011

FEMA practices major catastrophe in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD, MO (KSMU) - What would you do if a catastrophic event occurred? FEMA is asking itself that exact question this week, and the federal agency is using Springfield as one of its locations to find out. The feds have teamed up with local hospitals, shelters and morgues to see just how prepared the region is for a major disaster.

Part of the old terminal at the Springfield-Branson national airport was turned into a gigantic triage room this week as military personnel from across the country practiced evacuating patients.

The 140 fake patients - in this case mannequins on stretchers  - arrived by local ambulances. They were whisked into the medical room before soldiers and FEMA personnel loaded them onto massive C-130 military airplanes.

Beth Freeman is the regional administrator for FEMA Region 7 in Kansas City. She says this simulation was based on how FEMA would respond to an earthquake out of the New Madrid Fault Zone.

“Springfield hospitals and airports will be, if this scenario would indeed happen, would be probably the first large hospital center that patients can get to. Those hospitals here will quickly be filled. They will need to move patients out to other hospitals. That’s what we are practicing.”

The C-130s took off, loaded with the mannequins and medical staff, and headed for hospitals in Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, and Shreveport, Louisiana. For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.


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