2007-05-03 / Front Page

Mock disaster this weekend

By Sam Bari

A simulated disaster will be held at the Melrose Avenue School emergency shelter this coming Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is part of a nationwide drill designed to test the readiness of emergency shelters throughout the country.

"The northeast area, which includes all of the New England states, will deal with an imaginary hurricane," said Police Chief Thomas Tighe, town director of emergency services.

"Friday, we will create the scenario and post signs around town directing people to the shelter to make the situation as realistic as possible," Tighe said. The shelter will open on Saturday morning at 10 a.m., as if a hurricane had made landfall. Red Cross-trained personnel will be on hand to provide emergency services for approximately 30 volunteers as if they were driven from their homes by the storm. The "victims" will be housed and fed, and medical services will be provided. The police and fire departments will also be involved in the drill," Tighe added.

Shelter manager Joan Fink and her team of 16 trained volunteers will operate the shelter throughout the exercise. Mary Kelly and Mary Berthelot, both nurses, are in charge of medical assistance. Nancy Ventrone is the public information officer. Joan McCauley is in charge of communications, and Richard Ventrone will operate the Ham radio.

The state initiated drill is part of a nationwide effort to test and evaluate the readiness of states as well as individual shelters to handle large-scale emergencies and disasters. The open shelter simulation is timely because it is the final exercise in the training program that shelter volunteers must attend to be Red Cross certified.

Shelter personnel are required to attend a series of five classes to be eligible for certification. Town volunteers have been taking the classes since February. The fourhour classes include indoctrination, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, Automated External Defibrillator (AED) training, and mass care and shelter operation. An open shelter simulation is staged at the end of the course that covers all problems that could be encountered by emergency personnel.

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