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From train wrecks to tornadoes, area emergency services agencies and local hospitals want to be able to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a disaster involving mass casualties. Last fall, dozens of first-responders and over a hundred volunteers put months of planning to the test by conducting a mock disaster drill at the Southern Illinois Airport. In the scenario used in this exercise, the passengers and crew aboard an airliner became severely ill on what was supposed to be a routine flight between Nashville and St. Louis. The crew attempted an emergency landing at Carbondale, but the jetliner crashed in flames upon arrival.
This exercise gave local officials their first opportunity to test the capabilities of a new mobile hospital facility called a surge unit, that can be transported by truck to the scene of a major disaster in the region. Before we roll the story, we do want to warn you that the eventís planners wanted the drill to be as realistic as possible, and that included some very gruesome make-up used to portray the dead and injured.