SUMMIT, NJ - Nearly two dozen junior members of the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad recently took part in a simulated mass casualty exercise at the Squad's headquarters located at 1000 Summit Avenue. The planned drill was designed to challenge the proficiency achieved by the junior squad members during their residency training.

Responding in teams to a simulated explosion scene, the junior members encountered more than a dozen 'patients' who had superficial to life-threatening injuries. Adult squad members and parent volunteers participated as casualty victims and bystanders, following scripts to assist first responders in identifying injuries and obtaining information to guide treatment decisions.

The juniors members were expected to organize themselves at the scene and then assess, treat, and prepare patients for transport to the hospital.

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“Although the exercise is only a drill, we try to accurately simulate the distractions, chaos, and difficult decisions that arise in large scale incidents,” explains Chief Kari Phair. “Our juniors engage in realistic scenarios with victims that have life-threatening injuries. We do not sugar coat it for them. Some of the victims do not survive if immediate assistance is not provided.”

The Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad has one of the longest running junior programs in the area. Each year, high school students 16 years-of-age and older are eligible to join the Squad and assist in emergency calls. Juniors members are required to attend training sessions, participate in junior meetings and Squad activities, and serve weekly on a regularly scheduled crew shift.

“During the drill, our junior members were tested on the skills they have been developing since joining the squad,” said junior liaison Matt Raymond. “They were up to the challenge, calmly identifying the most critical patients, directing resources where they were needed, and performing life-saving maneuvers. Bandaging and splinting skills were employed. They made tough decisions and dealt with the consequences of their actions, both good and bad.”

Phair added, “The mock mass casualty incident is an extremely difficult exercise even for highly-trained responders. It requires cool thinking, focus, communication, and a reliance on learned skills in an environment where things can and do go wrong. Our juniors performed very well.”

For more information on the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad, visit summitems.org.