Fire departments, snowmobile clubs collaborate during drill

Feb 24, 2014
Photo by: Knox Emergency Management Agency Unified Commanders Chief Kevin Soule of Union Fire Department, wearing a green vest at right, and Knox County Sheriff's Office Lt. Kirk Guerette lead the operational and safety briefing prior to deploying responders.

Union — Several area fire departments and snowmobile clubs spent Saturday, Feb. 22, participating in a simulated plane crash drill.

Union Fire Department and Ambulance and Knox County Sheriff’s Office were the lead agencies responding to the simulated aircraft crash in a remote hillside location off Sennebec Road in Union.

Fire departments from Appleton, Warren, Washington and Hope joined Union crews in the exercise. Private sector responders included members of the Bog Brigade Snowmobile Club from Warren; The Hill and Gully Club of Washington; the Appleton Trail Makers of Appleton, and the Hatchet Mountain Snowmobile Club from Hope. The Maine Wardens Service, Rangers from the Maine Forest Service and The Maine National Guard also played supporting roles. In total, there were 62 participants in the drill.

Snowmobile clubs were asked to "cold start" as if there were a real emergency and all had responded to the staged scene within 40 minutes, according to Knox County Emergency Management Agency director Ray Sisk.

Materials provided to participants in the drill described the crash as being discovered by fishermen crossing Alford Lake on snowmobiles. The scenario states "a light plane has crashed on Barrett Hill in Union. Using a cell phone, [the fishermen] call 911 and report a downed plane with six passengers. All the victims are breathing but have sustained some injuries."

In 2011, Knox County EMA began smaller scale exercises with individual agencies and snowmobile clubs for single-victim, off-road rescues. This was in response to a previously identified emergency response gap for incidents which might occur during severe winter storms or in state park or other off-road incidents. Two “Rescue-Boggins,” capable of being towed by snowmobile or ATV’s, were procured and placed with fire departments in the region. These units join two privately held Rescue-Boggins already in the county giving a much improved region-wide severe weather or back country response capability.

Support for the drill was also provided by Union Masonic Lodge 31, Luce Transportation Co. and Union Farm Equipment.

Paramedic Jon Powers, wearing the yellow helmet, of Union EMS, and other responders move an injured crash "victim" to the waiting ambulance.  A snowmobile and operator from Hill and Gully Snowmobile Club in Washington is standing by to assist. (Photo by: Knox Emergency Management Agency)
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