Three Vulnerable Adults Not Lost In Downs Park

| December 14, 2010 | 0 Comments

But the possibility was there.

Despite the biting wind, and the sub freezing temperatures, over 70 people fanned out across the John H. Downs Memorial Park (Downs Park) in Pasadena in search of 3 Rescuers gather outside the Anne Arundel County Incident Command Centeradults suffering from dementia reported missing in the 236 acre park.  The search brought together eight public and private agencies to coordinate the search efforts for the missing adults on land, in the air, and on the water.

Thankfully, it was a drill. And thankfully, our first responders are more than prepared for virtually any eventuality. Eye On Annapolis was invited to observe the drill this morning up close and personal.

Lt. Herbert Hasenpusch of the Anne Arundel County Police Department was our liaison and Executive Director of the incident. He explained that they routinely train for events where other agencies can come together an work in a coordinated effort. The drill, designed to evaluate capabilities and compare them to expectations,  is required by the Department of Homeland Security since the County received DHS funding. This morning, on site Incident management, inter-agency communication and urban search and rescue were demonstrated and evaluated. Lt. Hasenpusch explained that this is a “no fault” exercise. The on scene evaluators are not looking to evaluate any individual performance, but will be looking for mistakes and areas where the process can be improved. “If there is a time and place to make a mistake, this is it,” said Hausenpach. This morning’s drill will be scrutinized and evaluated. Appropriate and continued training will be implemented and another drill will happen next year with completely different circumstances.

The Premise

All but a select few on the scene knew the details in order to make it as lifelike as possible. The drill utilized two “actors” who were “lost” in the park and a “dummy” who was rescued from an area determined to be inaccessible.  The County managed all communications from the Mobile Incident Command Center where the various agencies reported their progress throughout the morning.

Victim is transported across ravine by Anne Arundel COunty Fire Department Police marine and aviation units located the first victim at the bottom of a steep ravine which will require a technical rope rescue fro the Fire Department. Fire crews, under the command of Battalion Chief Thompson,  rigged a series of ropes across the ravine secured by trees on either side. A rescue basket was sent across the ravine so the firefighters attending the victim could affect the rescue. Using a series of pulleys and lines, the victim (in this case the fully weighted dummy) transported across the ravine in the rescue basket and ultimately to a waiting ambulance for transport.

Meanwhile, bloodhounds from the Maryland State Police were on the trail of the Annie, a Maryland State Police bloodhoundother two missing adults. Unlike the technical rescue, these were real people who were “lost” in the woods. The scent of the victims was obtained from a piece of clothing and the victims dropped two small pieces of gauze in the woods as they lost their way. Annie, the bloodhound was tasked with following the scent while her handler was looking for visual clues such as footprints and broken branches. Annie found the gauze and continued on the hunt until she found the missing people who were uninjured.

Participants

The following agencies and organizations participated in the drill:

  • Anne Arundel County Police Department
  • Anne Arundel County Fire Department
  • Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management
  • Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation & Parks
  • Maryland State Police
  • Maryland Natural Resources Police
  • Chesapeake Search Dogs
  • Calvert K-9 Search Team

Conclusions

As stated, each agency will be evaluating and learning from their performance this morning and will strive to improve the process. It should be very reassuring to County residents that our police and fire departments are well up to any challenge.

We will have a short video to post later, but if you are interested in seeing the remainder of the photos, please visit our online gallery.

· Anne Arundel County Police Department

· Anne Arundel County Fire Department

· Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management

· Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation & Parks

· Maryland State Police

· Maryland Natural Resources Police

· Chesapeake Search Dogs

Calvert K-9 Search Team

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Category: LIFE IN THE AREA, NEWS, OPINION

About the Author ()

John is the publisher and editor of Eye On Annapolis. As a resident and business owner in Anne Arundel County for more than 15 years, he realized that there was something missing in terms of community news--and Eye On Annapolis was born in late spring 2009. John's background is in the travel industry as a business owner, industry speaker, and travel writer. In terms of blogging and social media, he cut his teeth with MSNBC.com.