Drill prepares hospital, first-responders for the real thing

Franciscan St. Anthony Health – Michigan City received 30 “victims” from a mock amusement park ride accident at a Queen of All Saints Church Festival during an emergency preparedness drill June 5.

The exercise came with a twist, when among the purported injured was an unruly youth who suddenly announced while in the Emergency Department that he had a bomb in his backpack and planned to “kill everyone here,” before being restrained by LaPorte County Sheriff’s and Michigan City police and removed from the hospital, where it later was learned the device was fake and the perpetrator was taken into custody.

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The victims, who arrived by ambulance or were otherwise brought to the hospital, were portrayed by theater students in instructor Kortney Brennan’s theater class at Michigan City High School. The bomber was played by junior Charles Bentley, who said he plans to study theater in college.

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The LaPorte Countywide exercise, done annually and involving about 10 area emergency agencies, also involved an active shooter at a high school graduation ceremony in LaPorte and a chemical bomb explosion at a middle school there.

Franciscan St. Anthony Health was on standby to assist LaPorte Hospital-IU Health, with those scenarios.

Greg Arndt, Franciscan St. Anthony Health manager of safety and security, said cooperation among area medical providers and emergency services personnel in such situations is invaluable, and that officials would later meet to assess their performance and discuss possible ways to improve.

“After 9/11, these drills were prompted to help us better prepare for and to handle mass casualty situations,” he said. “These are done to help us better learn how to provide the best medical care available.”

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