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Grisly scene at camp is drill for young volunteers

Vashon Explorers Ellen Chappelka and Alexander Wright, with an off-island student, attend to a group leader from Bald Hills, who played a severely injured earthquake victim.   - Susan Riemer/Staff Photo
Vashon Explorers Ellen Chappelka and Alexander Wright, with an off-island student, attend to a group leader from Bald Hills, who played a severely injured earthquake victim.
— image credit: Susan Riemer/Staff Photo

Camp Sealth turned into a disaster scene last weekend, when five fire department Explorer and cadet groups from around the region gathered for team building and training exercises that sharpened their emergency medical skills.

The Washington Association of Future Firefighters organized the event, which brought 30 high school boys and 12 high school girls together for a weekend of emergency drills that included lost families, a plane crash in a nearby meadow and a massive earthquake that trapped four people under a nearby cabin.

Each scenario carried a high degree of realism, according to Lieutenant Rick Brown, one of the advisors of the Vashon Explorers group. The lost family exercise required the students to locate the families, treat their injuries and transport them. The plane crash included staged explosions and six actors as victims — many made to appear gravely wounded — all in the pouring rain and darkness of Saturday night.

On Sunday morning, in the midst of class, a loud “earthquake” caused an interruption, complete with two people injured nearby and others with gruesome crush injuries under a cabin up the hill. The students were called upon to stabilize the structure, treat the wounded with materials at hand and get them to safety.

Brown and his wife Deborah Brown, also an Explorer advisor, said the training went extremely well.

“We saw skills in the Explorers we did not know were there,” Deborah said.

Rick Brown, who has co-led the Explorers for 16 years, noted it is an excellent program for teens to determine if they have what it takes to become a fire fighter or emergency medical responder.

The exercises can be hard, he added, but the teens always focus on helping those who need it.

“I have yet to see someone who was not able to get through this,” he said.

 

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