Medical Training Simulation at the Deshka Landing Fire

Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 10 took command of the Deshka Landing Fire on August 20, 2019. Led by Incident Commander (IC) Alan Lawson, about 240 firefighters completed 90% containment of the 1,318-acre fire by August 31. The human-caused fire burned through meadows, mixed black and white spruce stands, and hardwoods including birch and aspen trees. Fire-weakend trees pose serious risks to firefighter safety, and this field-training simulation and setting were well matched.

Simulation: “Medical Training Drill Including Communications, Packaging and Transport of Injured Firefighter From the Fireline.” The (training) injury was a broken leg, the mechanism of injury was a falling hazard tree.

Forty-five firefighters and supervisors took part, including IC Lawson at the Incident Command Post, Trainee Bart Kicklighter, Division Supervisor Cary Neu and Trainee Rob Fore, Safety Officers Duane Van Woert and Phil Spor, Lead Medic Remington Becker, Helibase Manager Dave Matheney, Trainee Jake Hardt, and Central Oregon Initial Attack (IA) Crew 4.

Deshka Landing Fire Supervisors, Safety Officers and Medic Prepare For Training Simulation (left). Central Oregon Initial Attack (IA) Crew 4 Crew Boss Trainee Kira Santulli Relays Medical Information By Radio (center). Central Oregon IA Crew 4 Secures Patient In Portable Stretcher or “sked” (right), August 30, 2019. Photos: Mike McMillan – DNR

Narrative: Fire supervisors, safety officers and medics planned the simulation days in advance and enlisted the Central Oregon Initial Attack (IA) Crew as the main actors. One crewmember was chosen as the patient, the site was declared safe from additional falling trees and hazards, and the main radio contacts on scene were Kira Santulli and Rob Fore.

Hand-held radio communications were scratchy due to terrain features. Firefighters practiced packaging the patient on a portable stretcher (sked) and carrying her over broken terrain before loading the patient into a helicopter and ambulance on scene.

Outcomes: It was an ideal field-training opportunity for key team members and firefighters. Transfer of patient responsibility was smooth, field radio communications were strained, and many firefighters experienced the challenges of carrying a patient from the fireline to urgent medical care.

Central Oregon IA Crew 4 Firefighters Practice Loading Patient On Portable Stretcher (sked) Into Helicopter (left). Firefighters Practice Carrying Patient Over Broken Terrain (center). After-Action Review (AAR) of the Medical Training Simulation at the Deshka Landing Fire Helibase, August 30, 2019. Photos: Mike McMillan – DNR

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