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Emergency services, DNR perform exercise
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Even when theres not an emergency, Dawson Countys Emergency Services staff is preparing for one.

Thursday afternoon, Dawson County Emergency Services, along with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Search and Rescue and Critical Action Team, did some preparing: They performed a full-scale exercise to ready themselves should the real thing ever occur.

We try to have one to two full-scale exercises each year, Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said. Part of the reasons for the exercise is to test operations effectiveness, test plans and resource deployment, and improve communication across the agencies.

This years exercise was one that Emergency Services has seen before. A call was received that a man climbing around Cochran Falls near Amicalola State Park had fallen. And shortly after the call came through, the victims cell phone battery died. What EMS didnt know was that there were two victims who had fallen. In the scenario, another hiker heard the victims cries for help and tried to assist him, but he also fell.

EMSs latest call of that nature came in September of 2012. Then, a 22-year old man fell 20 to 30 feet down Cochran Falls. He suffered back injuries and broken bones, but was expected to make a full recovery. There also have been three other such calls over the past 20 years. Of the four cases, two victims survived and two died.

During the recent exercise, EMS had planned to use DNRs helicopter to evacuate the victims from the falls. But high winds forced crews to walk the mannequin victims out of the woods.

The teams were tested to the extreme.

Two of the three worst-case scenarios happened during the exercisebeing unable to fly and having multiple victims, Swafford said. A third worst-case scenario would have been a rescuer being injured.

The teams practiced the exercise from top to bottom, as if it were the real thing. They even had a public information officer on the scene to conduct interviews and release information.

Swafford said he was impressed with the all the agencies involved in the exercise. There was a lot of positive, he said. One was how well the three separate entities integrated together. Everybody worked very well together. Everybody was able to communicate on scene very well.

See pictures on our website