On Saturday, November 19the Cherokee County Coroner’s Office held its first ever mass casualty training course. This course was offered by the Department of Homeland Security’s Rural Preparedness Department and featured world a renowned expert on how rural communities respond to a mass casualty event.
A “mass casualty” event is declared by the coroner when an incident’s death toll surpasses the capabilities of the local office. Locally, the Coroner would call the emergency management agency and declare a state of mass casualty, and they would subsequently notify the state authorities to begin to provide aid to Cherokee County within hours. The class focused on how all first responders should work towards the overall goal of identifying victims and reuniting them with their loved ones.
Agencies that participated included Jacksonville State University Police Department, Troy University Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Reserve Officers, Cobb County Police Department, a representative from Cherokee County Health and Rehabilitation, Cherokee Medical Center, Cherokee Emergency Management Agency, Broomtown Fire Department, Cedar Bluff Fire Department, Marshall County Emergency Management Agency, and Cherokee County Coroner’s Office.
Situations that were discussed included an explosion at a local industrial manufacturing site, passenger bus crash, fire at a local medical/nursing home facility, stadium collapse at a football game, just to name a few.
Dr. Deaton states that “the goal of our office was for this training to be the biggest waste of time of our life, meaning that we hope and pray we never use this training in a real life setting. If or when the day comes, our office pledges to be the most prepared we can be and handle the situation with utmost respect and dignity possible. We hope that this training forces us to ask more questions than answers, and gives us a better platform to construct a response plan for the future.”