Emergency responders participate in mock search and rescue operations

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pearl River County emergency responders participated in another joint training operation over the weekend in the Jarrell Creek area.
“I was amazed at how far we’ve come,” Pearl River County Emergency Management Director Danny Manley said.
Manley said the group consisted of himself, volunteer and Picayune firefighters, law enforcement officers, Coast Electric employees and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency training officers. Those men and women spent the past year and a half running through various search and rescue scenarios, he said.
From Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, the group successfully participated in six different land and sea exercises, focusing on the difficult marsh areas of Pearl River County, Manley said.
“The primary goal was to exercise our ability to find lost persons in the swamps, give them medical aid and then perform an extraction,” he said.
A year of training utilizing the incident command system to respond to these types of events led to the exercises being much less chaotic than in the past, Manley said.
He said the incident command system enables the group to maintain a higher level of organization and chain of command down to what is disseminated to the media and the concerned public.
“It’s very unique that a county can put together a team that is this professional and organized with very little money,” he said. “We have a lot of financial support from Pine Grove community and the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, but most of it is accomplished with personal time and personal equipment.”
The most consequential scenario practiced detailed how the team would respond to an elected official that was lost and injured during a hunting accident.
“When you have a situation of that magnitude, like a congressman lost and injured, you’re going to have national media attention,” Manley said. “The goal was to, in a professional manner, get that situation neutralized as quickly as possible and keep national media up-to-date at all times.”
The team also practiced using non-electronic devices such as compasses and protractors during the operation.
Under a swamp canopy, common location devices are unable to function properly and have limited power supplies, Manley said.
Other exercises utilized Pine Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Seal’s bloodhound Bo, who has been trained for such missions, Manley said.
The group aims to hold training sessions of this magnitude each quarter, with another exercise expected at the end of the summer, he said.

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About Julia Arenstam

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