Lower Elwha Klallam's 'Bunker' scene of emergency-response drill
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Community Emergency Response Team trainees use blocks of wood and an iron bar to lift a heavy metal pipe high enough to free a mannequin "victim" trapped under it on Sunday. From left is Ray Colby, Mikie Morris, Scott Hughes, Dennis Fenster-maker, Dee Jesionow-ski, Robin Peers and Bill Acorn. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News

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It was just a drill.

But it was realistic, said Hollie Kaufman, nurse practitioner at the Lower Elwha Health Clinic, one of the 14 people -- including a 9-year-old boy -- who trained as rescuers during a mock disaster drill on the Elwha reservation west of Port Angeles.

The mock rescuers "walk into an absolute wreck," said Kaufman, one of the organizers of the disaster scenario at the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe's emergency operations center, a building referred to as The Bunker, on Sunday.

"It could have been caused by a earthquake. It could have been caught by a tsunami."

Roof beams were down. Mock victims -- who were members of tribal families or others who volunteered for the drill -- were arranged under furniture. Eight had survived, while two were considered fatalities.

Dummies were scattered outside, one placed underneath a big piece of a tower to prompt use of "cribbing," a technique for digging people out of rubble using lumber as braces and a large iron rod as a lever.

"One little boy [who was pretending to be a victim] got really scared and had to be brought out," Kaufman said.

"It is scary. You're in a big room, and everything is totally destroyed. The lights are out, and everyone is told to yell and scream."

The drill was the culmination of two days of training by the Northwest Tribal Emergency Management Council -- Lynda Zambrano, is the executive director of the group, and the lead instructor is Dennis Fenstermaker.

Those who completed the course -- most of whom were affiliated with the clinic, Kaufman said -- received certificates of achievement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that show they had completed Community Emergency Response Team training.

"If there ever is a disaster and people respond, they won't be sent away because local authorities think they don't have training, so they will be able to help," Kaufman said.

Among those who received the certificate was Anthony Francis, 9, a tribal member.

He won't be part of a rescue team, should one be needed, but if he finds himself in a situation needing first aid, knowledge of how to put out a fire or any of the others skills taught during the course, he will know how, Kaufman pointed out.

DeLaine Greene, referral coordinator at the clinic, was another organizer of the training, said Phil Slimko, who directs emergency management for the tribe and who coordinated events at The Bunker.

Instructors cataloged the disasters that could be expected on the North Olympic Peninsula -- natural catastrophes such as severe windstorms, landslides, tsunamis or earthquakes -- and then taught basic fire suppression, first aid, search-and-rescue techniques, as well as how to transport injured people safely and what to do for mental issues.

"The two days -- they were intense," Kaufman said.

Last modified: February 08. 2010 11:50PM
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