Red Cross Holds Mass Casualty Incident Training at Duluth International Airport

Drills went through how to open up a Family Assistance Center during a Mass Casualty Incident.

DULUTH, Minn.- It’s training they hope is never actually used.

With summer right around the corner, concerts, festivals and other large crowded events carry the potential for an accident or active threat scenario.

The Red Cross gathered law enforcement, fire and medical experts to evaluate how they’d assist people if something like that happened in the Northland.

The goal of the training was to walk the 40+ attendees through how to open a family assistance center.

An assistance enter is a place victims, family and responders can go to get information, belongings, and people in a mass casualty incident.

According to organizers with the Red Cross, even though such a major event hasn’t happened here, it’s important for these people to know how to handle it, and who’d they be working with.

“One thing we hear on all disasters, no matter how small or how large: ‘I never thought it would happen to me’,” said Tony Guerra, Disaster Program Manager with the Minnesota Chapter of the Red Cross.

“The key thing is to assist the people, I mean it’s a stressful time for everyone involved, not only the family, the friends but also the workers. So that’s what we’re learning here today.”

The group heard from a Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Advisor, who has opened up assistance centers during many high profile events, such as the Las Vegas shooting and the Sandy Hook Massacre.

“So there’s people who have a little bit of experience, but what we know about mass casualty responses is that they are varied and depend very much on the event that actually happened,” Tara Hughes said.

“So if you’ve done one of them, you’ve really done: one of them.”

Those in attendance went through tabletop drills, presenting scenarios to the groups to work through the logistics of opening a family assistance center, such as location, and car and foot traffic control.

“Many people are learning about what Red Cross can do to help the community in these events, but the Red Cross is also learning what all these other people are doing when a mass casualty happens and how we can really function together,” said Hughes.

Hughes said she’s seen the success of family assistance centers in getting services to victims and workers at many of the incidents she’s responded to.

And according to Guerra, if they had to, the group here today is ready to open up one of those centers.

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