Drill helps fire, ambulance rescuers prepare

Gwen Chamberlain
This Is a Drill: Penn Yan Fire volunteers used their equipment to extract the trapped driver from the sedan that crashed into the bus.

The screams from the children on the school bus were cries of distress not squeals of delight.

Those screams were all part of a simulated accident that was staged Aug. 18 so members of the Penn Yan Fire Department and Penn Yan Ambulance Corps could practice working together at a major incident scene.

The accident depicted a collision between a sedan driven by a woman, and the bus which was provided by Penn Yan Central School transportation department. The woman was trapped in the driver’s seat of her car and the bus driver slumped over the steering wheel.

A teenage girl lay motionless on the floor of the bus between the rows of seats, making access to the rear door difficult. Other children lay quietly under seats or were banging on windows screaming to be helped.

Within about 30 minutes, the 16 children, bus driver and sedan driver had all been removed from the vehicles, and either loaded into ambulances or taken to a triage area where their injuries were assessed.

After their role-playing duties were complete, some of the children who participated talked about the experience. Zoe Zigler, 6, spoke for most of them when said she wasn’t frightened. “I knew it was just pretend,” she said.

Dylan Hassos, 10, said the experience was fun. “You get to act out, but you have to be serious about it.”

Lily Schoff, 9, admitted that if it had been a real accident, she would have been “freaked out.” But she said knowing the rescuers were there made her feel safe.

Vanessa Martinez, 9, said her experience was a good one because she portrayed a girl who didn’t speak much English. “I learned that even if you can only speak a little English, you can communicate,” she said.

Steve Morse of the Fire Department and Carman Moss of the Penn Yan Ambulance Corps coordinated the drill, which helps them identify areas for future training sessions.

Morse says the bus will be used again in training with extraction tools before being taken for recycling.