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.
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."
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.