Lifelike emergency scenarios help prepare first responders for real possibilities

May 3—Three different scenarios all played out as real emergencies recently in the Bartram Forest.

'Real' was the operative word.

Shortly before 9:30 a.m., the scenarios played out over the Baldwin County 911 radio system.

The voice behind the emergency tone to local agencies was that of Mandy Ptak, director of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office Emergency 911 Center.

----The first scenario involved a 28-year-old woman who went bicycle riding in the forest with some friends and then became sick and turned around. She had intended to return to her parked car, but she never made it.

When her friends returned hours later, they found her car still parked where it had been originally and they found no sign of their friend.

They thought she may have called a relative to pick her up.

Friends called to the woman to check on her condition, but she never answered.

By then, some 10 hours had passed.

One of the friends called 911 to report her missing.

The woman was last seen riding her bicycle along a trail in the forest, southeast of a pond that runs off the Carl Vinson Road.

----A 22-year-old man was out walking and hunting in the forest.

Hours later, the man's wife grew alarmed and called 911 when her husband had not returned. The woman told authorities that her husband always takes his cellphone, but that when she called, it went straight to voicemail.

The man has several medical conditions, including heart and kidney problems and possible diabetes.

----Two men walked away from a halfway house.

One of the men, 20, has schizophrenia. The second man, 23, has a behavioral disorder.

The two men were last seen walking along a trail behind the Georgia Power Company substation off Carl Vinson Road.

----Any time, day or night, weekends or holidays, presents the possibility that an emergency may be toned out by an E-911 dispatcher, suddenly uniting law enforcement officers with other first responders from different agencies.

Training for emergencies is paramount in saving lives.

During the past several months, a lot of planning and coordination between multiple local and state agencies helped make a recent emergency exercise successful, according to Baldwin County Emergency Management/Homeland Security Director Wayne Johnson.

He and a host of other representatives from the agencies that participated in the exercise devised three make-believe emergency

Those directly involved in planning the training exercise with Johnson included Colin Duke, assistant director of Baldwin County EMA; Baldwin County Sheriff's Office Capt. Lee Williamson; Baldwin County Fire Rescue Chief Victor Young; Atrium Health Navicent Emergency Medical Services' Steve Chapple; and Chief Ranger Troy Helms of the Baldwin County Unit of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The agencies involved in the training exercise included Baldwin County EMA, Baldwin County Sheriff's Office and Posse Unit, Milledgeville Police Department, Baldwin County Fire Rescue, Atrium Health Navicent Emergency Medical Services, the Baldwin County Unit of the Georgia Forestry Commission, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, and the Georgia Department of Corrections and a K-9 tracking dog.

"Overall, the exercise was successful," Johnson said.

He said one of the goals of the emergency exercises was to emphasize team building.

"We wanted to see how well we could get multiple departments and agencies familiar with working together," Johnson said.

The exercises also provided the opportunity to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of communication protocols and technology utilized during search and rescue operations.

"The aim was to enhance coordination among search teams and to improve response times to distressed individuals," Johnson said.

It also accesses the proficiency and adaptability of search and rescue personnel in navigating diverse terrains and challenging environments, he added.

Johnson said the operation also allowed him and others, including a state EMA official, to measure the efficiency of medical response and first aid interventions.

Emphasis was placed on promptness and adequacy of medical assistance delivered in critical situations, and ultimately aimed at minimizing casualties and ensuring timely care, as well as measure accountability, Johnson said.

First responders gathered at the new Georgia State Patrol post on Carl Vinson Road. Afterward, they all enjoyed an afternoon cookout.