Disaster Scenario Training Exercise

Lyons Prepared holds a yearly disaster scenario event with the Lyons Fire Protection District. This is an example from disaster scenario event from a previous year. We simulated a damaging wind event that had caused downed trees and power lines to block roads into most neighborhoods and had cut off all normal channels of communication (cellular service, landline phones, internet, etc.). The winds were also causing extensive property damage like roofs blown off, panel trucks overturned, and a small plane crash with leaking fuel, as well as medical emergencies in the neighborhoods such as broken bones and a cardiac arrest.

1. The Lyons Fire incident communications group handled a high volume of emergency incidents and requests for information and situation updates being called in by Lyons Prepared neighborhood points-of-contact via their MURS radios. Marya, far right, and Sue, center, were assigned to the incident communications group, and Natalie was running reports out to Incident Command.

2. Drew, the incident Commander and his team triaged all incoming reports and organized and initiated the Lyons Fire response, including simulating calling upon other local and regional resources. Alan was assigned to Incident Operations.

At one point in the midst of all the normal emergency event chaos, they were also accosted by an actor giving a very convincing performance as an aggressive and tenacious local newspaper reporter getting in their faces with a barrage of questions before being politely escorted to a conference room by one of the officers so that the incident command team could get on with their work uninterrupted. Thanks, Carolyn, for your great performance!

3. Linda was one of three experienced Lyons Prepared members, along with Aaron and Tosh, observing this year's exercise at the fire station (the three of them had participated in their own neighborhoods during last year's training exercise, a simulated massive snowstorm). As always, the primary responsibility of Lyons Prepared volunteers during an emergency is to spread calm and factual information, as well as to quash any false rumors that start spreading.

4. Frank participated as a Lyons Prepared point of contact in the Apple Valley neighborhood. Here he is with his rugged Vertex Standard VX-451 VHF radio, which he has connected to an external FireStik antenna. Our VX-450 series radios are programmed with all five MURS channels with two-way communication capability, as well as many local public service channels for scanning only.

5. Amber was one of our volunteer actors who arrived unexpectedly at Frank's house with simulated wounds and a broken leg. Here she is being attended to by Frank's wonderfully friendly dog, Trixie, who acted as a rescue dog.

6. Our actors wore simulated injuries to make the exercise as realistic as possible. Here's Amber's simulated leg injuries before Frank and Henri provided first-aid treatment, splinting and wrapping her leg.

Sara and Keith handled what was probably our most challenging medical emergency, a simulated cardiac arrest in the Lyons Valley Park neighborhood. Happily, their efforts kept the CPR mannequin's heart pumping until the Lyons Fire first responders arrived and fully revived the patient.

7. To ensure radio coverage in even the most remote neighborhoods with challenging terrain like deep canyons, we tried a variety of antennas, including the FireStik MURS base antenna, the portable dual band MURS / GMRS Slim Jim antenna, and the broadband Comet CA-2x4SR antenna that is designed for Search & Rescue teams and includes MURS, public service, and amateur radio band coverage. Bryan in the Dakota Ridge neighborhood got good results using a CA-2x4SR antenna on a magnetic base that he temporarily mounted on his steel gutters, which he used to report a downed aircraft leaking fuel in his neighborhood, after he and Joe had attended to the pilot's injuries.

In the Longmont Dam Road neighborhood, which has a very difficult location for radio communication, Ken & Gayle solved the challenge by getting permission from a friendly neighbor whose home sits near the top of a nearby hill to hang their Slim Jim antenna from the neighbor's porch roof. Many of our volunteers are also implementing less expensive Walkie Talkie solutions for communicating within their sprawling neighborhoods with their often far-flung neighbors.

8. One thing that went really well happened in the Lyons Park Estate neighborhood where Jenni & Rob took advantage of their fantastic location high above Lyons and the strong connectivity that their FireStik antenna provided to act as a relay with the neighborhoods that weren't able to communicate directly with the fire station. Even though this caused a lot of extra work—on top of the already chaotic circumstances created by unexpected visits by neighbors (actors) reporting emergency events and asking about worrisome rumors spreading throughout the neighborhood—Jenni, with assistance from Joycelyn, handled it all with aplomb.

9. At the conclusion of the live exercise, everyone gathered at the fire station for a debriefing followed by a delicious lunch. Here the Incident Commander, Drew, is sharing his experience and answering questions.The debrief gave us an opportunity to discuss what went well and, more importantly, areas where both Lyons Prepared and Lyons Fire can institute improvements to our capabilities.

10. Altogether, nearly 40 people participated in this year's training exercise, and the general consensus was that it was well worth doing and is something that should be repeated.

A big thank you to all of the Lyons Prepared and Lyons Fire volunteers who gave up a beautiful, sunny autumn Saturday to participate, and especially to Chief Hoffmann for being fully supportive of this event and all the chaos it visited upon his fire district.

Thanks also to Chris, Amber, Ann, Davis, and Jane, who participated as our wonderful and often maimed actors, dropping in unexpectedly on our Lyons Prepared neighborhood points of contact with injuries and reports of emergencies for them to handle.

Finally, a big thank you to Lyons Fire volunteer and Lyons Prepared co-chair Emily Gubler, who spent countless hours scripting the scenario, lining up participants and actors, arranging for supplies (like first aid kits, realistic looking wounds wraps, and even a CPR mannequin), and generally lost too many hours of sleep worrying about every last detail that goes into coordinating a big, fast moving, chaotic, yet ultimately successful exercise like this. She has definitely earned a new title to list on her CV: Master of Simulated Disasters!

- Tosh, Lyons Prepared co-chair, Oct 17, 2017. Photos by Henri, Bryan, and Tosh.

Want to volunteer to help out in your neighborhood?

We're still looking for volunteers in some of our neighborhoods, including Town West of the River (Confluence and Ewald), Lonestar, X Bar 7 / Blue Mountain Trail, and Eagle Canyon. If you'd like to participate in the communication tree for your neighborhood or as a neighborhood point of contact, please contact us at info@LyonsPrepared.com.

For more information about becoming a Lyons Prepared volunteer neighborhood point of contact member, please see our Membership page.