[Nameplate] Overcast ~ 61°F  
High: 67°F ~ Low: 53°F
Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Grim lessons open student's eyes

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Screams for help mingled with moans as 14 North Putnam High School students and their bus driver waited after being trapped inside the vehicle following a mock wreck, part of a disaster-training event presented by the school corportion every year.

It seemed like an eternity from the time an injured student popped through a window on the side of the mangled bus crying for help before emergency units arrived on the scene.

In reality, it was a little over 10 minutes.

Emergency responders had to lower a critically injured student from the top of the mangled bus to a waiting ambulance during a mock disaster drill at North Putnam High School Friday morning.
Responders and emergency personnel arrived at the school from Bainbridge, Russellville, Roachdale, Van Bibber Lake, the Putnam County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police, Putnam County E911, Lifeline and Putnam County Operation Life. More than 30 emergency personnel participated in the event.

Students inside the bus were screaming as they acted as if they were clinging to life, hoping someone would respond and let them out.

Responders had to cut out a section of the roof to get to some of the injured students inside. A few were able to climb through an emergency door that had been pried open.

School administrators were taking kids' names as they were brought out of the wreck. In the background, parents were arriving on the scene and trying to find out if their children were on the bus.

A Lifeline Helicopter airlifted the 30-year-old bus driver from the scene as Operation Life transported injured students to ambulances and to a waiting bus.

Jim Hazelwood drew attention from police and administrators as he tried to rush to the bus to find his two grandchildren.

Hazelwood had called Roachdale Elementary School after hearing about the accident on the scanner. He did such a believable job of being a real parent that Principal Helen Blubaum asked him if he knew this was a mock disaster.

"She did great," said Hazelwood. "She talked to me and assured me she would get information about the bus and who was on it as soon as possible."

At the scene, Hazelwood acted as many concerned parents might, with police and school officials having to calm him and keep him off the scene. He eventually collapsed with chest pains and had to be taken away by ambulance.

"This is exactly the kind of thing that happens in a real situation," said one fireman.

As students watched the scenario play out, a "dead" student was placed in a body bag by emergency officials under the direction of Putnam County Coroner Thomas Miller and transported away.

As the disaster wound down to a close, North Putnam Middle School principal Terry Tippen told students, "It could happen, This could happen."

Lifeline Helicopter took part in a mock disaster at North Putnam High School Friday morning. The emergency response helicopter flew in to take the injured bus driver to an Indianapolis hospital.
"It's important for you to stay by the bus so we can identify everyone on it. In a real situation you older kids can help the little ones," said Tippen.

Randy Neeley, who contacted a salvage yard, procured the mangled bus. Ron Higgins used his wrecker to bring it to the school and will return it to the salvage yard now that the event is over.

"The administrators really did a good job," said Neeley. "This is a hard event to put together. They really were on top of it."

Roachdale Fire Chief Mike Poole gathered responders together after the disaster to ask what went well and what needed help.

"In a real disaster we won't have this many people to help. We may only have four or five people initially. It could be 15 or 20 minutes before more help arrives," he said.

Emergency responders use mock disasters like these to train for real emergencies. A debriefing took place following the event.

Sophomore Shelby Hall plays a fatally injured student during a mock disaster involving a school bus at North Putnam High School Friday morning. County Coroner Thomas Miller and emergency responders are placing her inside a body bag.
"We learned a lot," said Poole.

Note: The nature of the Internet makes it impractical for our staff to review every comment. If you feel that a comment is offensive, please Login or Create an account first, and then you will be able to flag a comment as objectionable. Please also note that those who post comments on bannergraphic.com may do so using a screen name, which may or may not reflect a website user's actual name. Readers should be careful not to assign comments to real people who may have names similar to screen names. Refrain from obscenity in your comments, and to keep discussions civil, don't say anything in a way your grandmother would be ashamed to read.

I attended North Putnam High School. I think it is awesome the way everyone comes together to do this. They do such a good job, that it is hard to believe that it isn't real. A lot of emotions go through you when you watch them do these mock disasters. This is a great way to show the students what to do in emergency situations.

-- Posted by putnammom on Sat, Apr 18, 2009, at 11:00 AM

It's great training and everyone treats it as if it's the real thing. It may be just a drill but the emotions are real too.

-- Posted by purple_heat on Sat, Apr 18, 2009, at 11:49 AM

Well first off, I attended the mock disaster drill and I think it was a waste of tax payers money. It took about 45 minutes to an hour, not 10. While there were people still inside everyone just stood around and did nothing and they didn't even keep the mock injured people off to the side, they just walked off scene, even the girl who supposedly died Shelby Fry, not Hall, walked off and stood in the crowd. A lot of the students said they would rather be in class then attend that which is saying a lot for the kids of North who don't like to be in class as much anyone else.

-- Posted by redrocket on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 12:57 AM

To Redrocket... what part of mock drill don't you understand? The kids all new this wasn't real so what's the big problem with the "injured" children getting out of the way so that the surrounding students can see what's going on. But most importantly, most of the people there were VOLUNTEERING. Yes, I know this is a hard concept to understand but we do have concerned and helpful workers in this county... The deputies that were there were already on duty for the county so no one was paid extra to come out there. I went to North and at the time, yes I thought this was a little too dramatic but I appreciated the experience when I started driving. Teenagers should know that this can happen to anyone at anytime!

-- Posted by WTFRUthinkin on Sun, Apr 19, 2009, at 12:39 PM

I think this is a wonderful disaster drill for our children. They will remember these if anything real would happen to them and should remain a little calmer or feel more self confident of what they should do. The men that take their time to do this should be commended for this.

Other schools need to do this I bet Turkey Run wishes the kids on the bus accident this week would of understood a little more. And we should prepare for all kinds of disasters as you never know what might happen from day to day in our lifes.

-- Posted by citizenpc on Mon, Apr 20, 2009, at 12:44 AM

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: